Atheism as Religion: Part 2

Rich, commenting on my original blogpost discussing the similarities between organised atheism and religion, poses the question

Don’t religions have
Origins stories
Places of Worship
Morality Codes
Afterlife Stories?

Now those are clearly features of religion as it is conventionally understood, and if atheism is considered to be merely the denial of the supernatural, without any attempt to produce supporting arguments and conceptions of the world and morality in opposition to theistic views, atheism clearly is very different from religion. In practice the situation is rather different. Atheism is not simply a mere fideistic denial, but is based on certain arguments and a distinct worldview. In that sense, atheism can be seen as a system of cultural symbols, as in Geertz’s definition of religion, and as a quasi-religion after John E. Smith, as organised atheism attempts to fulfill many of the same ideological and societal functions of religion. Incidentally, when Smith coined the term ‘quasi-religion’ he did not mean it any kind of disparaging sense. He was attempting to steer a middle course between those religious scholars who saw these secular ideologies as religions, and the proponents of these secular ideologies who strongly objected to such an idea. They were quasi-religions because they fulfilled some of the functions of religion, while departing from it in their this-worldly, anti-transcendentalist nature.

My own feeling is that there is no clear distinction between what a religion and a secular ideology, and that avowedly secular philosophies can take on forms or functions profoundly similar to those of theistic religions. The ancient Greek philosophies can be seen as a case in point. Platonism was explicitly theistic, and late Roman Neoplatonism has been described as ‘the mind’s road to God’. Similarly, Aristotelianism was also theistic, and while denying individual life after death, except in the sense of the active intellect which was general to all humans, and did not die with the body, it was concerned with establishing proper ethical conduct, like Platonism. The Stoics too were pantheist materialists. God existed, there was a little sense of a personal deity. Humans were material entities, and there was no life after death except in the sense of the ‘eternal return’ in which matter, after endless ages, would return to it and repeat its original patterns, so that people would be reconstituted and live out their lives, exactly as they had done billions of ages before. And this would be repeated throughout eternity. They also developed a consistent theory of ethics in which the goal was to limit one’s desires to what was achievable and accept pain and distress in order to minimise suffering. Going further, the Epicureans denied the omniscience and creative activity of the Olympian gods in the universe. They had a profoundly Naturalistic view of the creation and functioning of the universe. They also denied the existence of life after death. Nevertheless, they did not deny that the gods existed, had particular conceptions of the goal of life and ethics, and established a series of centres for pastoral care and the development and promotion of their views that has been compared with that of the later Christian church.

Platonism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism and Epicureanism were all secular philosophies, yet they also showed some connections to theism, such as a belief in a deity, even if these deities were rendered ineffective. They also possessed distinct moral views, established institutions for the moral care of their adherents’ psyches, like religious institutions, and had a distinct view of the origins and fate of the cosmos, although these differed profoundly from that of traditional Graeco-Roman religion. Plato in the Timaeus suggested that the world was created from pre-existing matter by a Demiurge, a deity, observing the pre-existent, eternal Ideas and fashioning copies of them from matter. Neoplatonism and Aristotelianism both considered that the world was eternal, though for Neoplatonism it still had a origin in divine creation through emanation from the One. The Stoics believed that the universe had originally been a single mass, and then had separated out into the distinct objects of the contemporary cosmos. The Epicureans also had a distinct theory of the origins of the cosmos in that they saw it as originating in the chance patterns created through the fall of eternal atoms in the cosmic void. In this sense, the ancient philosophies have a profoundly religious, or quasi-religious character, and can be considered as philosophical religions, rather than what we would consider as pure philosophies.

However, they also point out the way in which some secular, atheistic philosophies can also take on some of the characteristics of religion, including those outlined above as supposedly indicative of religion. Let’s go through them.

Origin Stories

Now most religions do indeed have origin stories. And contemporary atheism also has its secular origins narrative. For the contemporary West, this is a rigidly atheist Neo-Darwinism, strictly understood as removing God from any kind of creative activity. While evolution itself may not be atheistic, evolutionary has formed the basis for much atheistic polemic. A particularly strong example of this is the atheist views propounded by Richard Dawkins and Daniel C. Dennett. Dawkins has always been very clear about the atheistic implications of evolution, telling Peter Medawar that ‘Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist’. Daniel C. Dennett in his Darwin’s Dangerous Idea described Neo-Darwinism as a ‘universal acid’ which would corrode religion. Despite the conception of evolution as a secular, non-religious theory, so much metaphysical ideas have been invested in it that the British philosopher, Mary Midgeley, considered it to have become something of a religion itself for some, and so wrote an entire book, Evolution as a Religion, examining atheist evolutionism as a form of religion.

Midgeley, who is herself an opponent of Creationism and Intelligent Design, considered the essential nature of religion to be

‘the sense of having one’s place within a whole greater than oneself, one whose larger aims so enclose one’s own and give them point that sacrifice for it may be entirely proper. This sense need not involve any extra factual beliefs at all. Marxism does not, nor does Taoism. Both call centrally for changes in attitude to the facts one already accepts – changes in connection, in emphasis, in attention, in selection, in the meaning and importance atacched to particulars -in short, a changed world-picture’. 1

Midgeley explicitly considered Marxism and evolutionism to be ‘the two great secular faiths of our day’, and noted that within there were ‘many elements which we think of as characteristically religious. We begin, for instance, to find priesthoods, prophecies, devotion, bigotry, exaltation, heresy-hunting and sectarianism, ritual, sacrifice, fanaticism, notions of sin, absolution and salvation, and the confident promise of a heaven in the future.’ 2

For Midgeley, Marxism and evolutionism, the two classic secular religions, have ‘like the great religions and unlike more casual local faiths, large-scale, ambitious systems of thought, designed to articulate, defend and justify their ideas – in short, ideologies’. 3 As such, it was extremely difficult to establish a simple way of establishing their non-religious character. Their lack of belief in God was no answer.

‘It is certainly not enough to say that they do not involve belief in God. Taoism does not do this either, nor does Buddhism in its original form. And the question whether the Buddha is now ‘a god’ is not a simple one at all. He is, after all, to be sought and found within us. Moreover, where there are ‘gods’ their nature varies enormously. They certainly need not be creators. The world is often held to be timeless, or to have some other origin. Neither, on the other hand, does religion necessarily involve the immortality of the soul. Judaism in its early form does not seem to have involved human survival after death. Even for Buddhism, the soul will eventually be dispersed into its elements. And so on.’ 4

Thus Midgeley considers that there is no dividing line between a secular ideology and a religion, and Marxism and evolutionism deserve to be considered as religions because ‘they are, not accidentally but by their very nature, dominant creeds, explicit faiths by which they live and to which they try to convert others. They tend to alter the world.’ 5 Her book, Evolution as a Religion, is an attempt to demonstrate how a scientific theory whose factuality she accepts – evolution – has become in effect a religion. Thus it is entirely justifiable to view evolution as in some forms both a secular religion in itself, and the origins narrative of contemporary atheism. This perception is strengthened by the location of the headquarters of the National Centre for Science Education, the leading campaign group against Creationism and Intelligent Design, in the same building, and sharing much the same membership, as the Committee for Secular Humanism. At a personal level you can see it also in the reaction of leading atheist evolutionists like Richard Dawkins to the challenge of Intelligent Design. Unlike the reviews of many other atheist evolutionists, Dawkins’ review of Michael Behe’s The Edge of Evolution was personally vitriolic, perhaps because it represented a challenge to his own, deeply held personal beliefs.

Morality Codes

As atheists themselves have repeatedly pointed out, atheism does not mean a lack or rejection of morality, and atheists have been actively trying to produce rational, secular justifications for morality and moral codes. Nietzsche in the 19th century explored the implications of atheism for morality and human behaviour, and come up with his own, idiosyncratic moral conceptions. Instead of Christian slave morality, he posited egoism. In contrast to Judaeo-Christianity’s complete rejection of the negative parts of the human character, he recommended instead that they should be carefully cultivated, as if in a garden, as a way of promoting self-improvement. For example, an actor’s envy of another actor could, if properly cultivated by the aspiring superman, lead to the envious actor becoming a better actor. This radical negation of traditional Judaeo-Christian views of morality has failed to be accepted. Nevertheless, other atheists have continued the project of creating a godless morality.

Sartrean Existentialism, for example, which Sartre saw as a kind of Humanism, sees the goal of life as living authentically, rejecting the bad faith of living in false beliefs and ideologies, and failing to live up to the curse of radical freedom given to humans in the world. Corliss Lamont, in his Humanism as Philosophy, attempted to promote a Humanist morality based on ‘ethical self-restraint’. He viewed actions as neither good nor bad in themselves, but only through their effects, though he did not reject the importance of motives either as he wished to preserve the distinction between murder and manslaughter. 6 Similarly, contemporary Humanists have a set of values to which they believe humans owe unconditional allegiance, such as freedom, autonomy, creativity, reason and science, aesthetic appreciation and democracy. 7 None of these are unique to Humanism, or even to atheism, but they receive particular emphasis in Secular Humanism, and are contrasted with the ignorance, tyranny and superstition that supernatural religion is supposed to bring. Thus organised atheism has its particular conceptions of morality and moral codes.

Places of Worship

This would seem to be the greatest difference between atheism and religions. Religions do indeed commonly have places of worship – temples, synagogues, mosques and churches. Atheism considers that there is nothing to be worshipped, and so has none. Nevertheless, there are certain similarities even here.

Firstly, atheism does fulfill some of the functions of religious worship in that it has meeting halls and buildings in which events are held intended to connect the adherents of that particular brand of atheism with a deeper reality. The adherents of the Ethical Church, for example, had their meetings in Conway Hall in Red Lion Square in London, in which they sang inspiring songs, heard inspiring prose and listened to what was effectively a sermon on an ethical or scientific issues. 8 Auguste Comte’s Postive Church was founded very much as a church, with rituals and a kind of liturgy, and Corliss Lamont wrote Humanist services. 9 In the early 20th century, Marxist intellectuals such as Maksim Gorky and Anatoly Lunacharsky founded ‘god-building’ or bogostroitel’stvo, whose doctrines were expounded between 1908 and 1911 in Lunacharsky’s two-volume work Religiia i Sotzialism (Religion and Socialism). Marxism was conceived as worship of a god who was human. Therefore, in order for civilisation to be spiritually renewed, cult sites were to be established dedicated to an atheistic genius of socialism to which people would make pilgrimages. These sites would reinforce people’s faiths in the promise of a better future through socialism through reminding them of the immortal achievements of atheist, socialist intellectuals. 10 Although Lenin was sharply opposed to the movement, this did not prevent Stalin from establishing Lenin as a kind of founding Communist prophet, complete with a mausoleum that acted as a shrine, a pattern that was followed in China with the establishment of a dedicated tomb to their great revolutionary, Chairman Mao.

Away from such official Marxist cults, ordinary people can experience in purely secular contexts the overpowering feelings religious people may experience during pilgrimages when they journey to a place associated with a secular intellectual. A few years ago a friend of mine with very strong Secularist beliefs told me of the overpowering emotion he felt visiting Darwin’s house, which had been converted into a museum. Finding himself in Darwin’s house, amongst his personal possessions and writings, the man had been overcome with emotion to the point where he found himself crying. Now it seems to me – and I don’t mean this as any kind of disparagement to either the man or his beliefs – he had experienced something akin to feeling of mysterium tremendum fascinans et augustem – the feeling of ‘awefulness’ Rudolf Otto put at the heart of religious experience. He felt personally connected to a higher realm through an experience of the personal possession – and it would be entirely justifiable here to refer to them as relics in the religious sense – of Darwin, whose idea of Natural Selection was personally important, perhaps particularly so to this man due to his own deeply felt atheism.

Thus atheism shares with religions sites which may have particular importance as places where individuals assemble to reinforce the moral teachings of their ideology, and experience a higher reality, which may be revealed by the discovery of a particularly respected scientist or intellectual.

Incidentally, not all religions have dedicated places of worship. In Genesis, for example, Abraham and the other patriarchs don’t have dedicated shrines, but build cairns upon which they make appropriate sacrifices when they feel the presence of God in a particular location. Archaeologist studying pre-Roman Britain have noted the lack of dedicated religious sites, and consider this to be due to a prevailing religious ideology at the time which did not separate off religion from other cultural activities. There were no special religious sites, as all of life was imbued with religious significance and ritual. In Christianity, certain Christian denominations may radically reject ritual and ceremony as pagan, and while having dedicated buildings to their religious use are very careful to avoid any term for them which denotes pagan religion. The Quakers, for example, rejected ceremonies as pagan corruptions of the original Christianity, preferring the direct experience of the ‘inner light’ of the Holy Spirit. Rather than being called churches, their places of assembly are called simply ‘meeting houses’. Thus their Christian experience of God is, in some respects, less like that of the ritualistic forms of assembly devised by certain forms of organised atheism, like the Ethical Churches and Positivists.

Afterlife Stories

This is another subject that at first sight does indeed distinguish atheism from theism. Atheism, with its basis in materialism and Naturalism, denies a belief in life after death, while religion commonly supports the continuation of the personality in some form. However, even here the difference between atheism and religion may be far less, or even entirely absent, than is apparent. The philosopher J.D. McTaggart indeed considered that reality consisted of a community of independent spirits, and was eager to establish a metaphysics that would justify a ‘religious attitude’, defined as ‘a conviction of harmony between ourselves and the universe at large’. He was, however, an atheist who did not believe in God and was critical of Christianity as a theology and an ethical system in his Some Dogmas of Religion. 11 In the 1930s the Cambridge philosopher C.D. Broad was also an atheist who advocated a kind of ’emergent materialism’, yet believed very much in the survival of the personality after death and took seriously psychical research in his book Mind and its Place in Nature. 12

There are also atheist ideologies which look forward to the technological achievement of human survival after death, their resurrection and immortality. These take the form of Western Transhumanism, and Russian Cosmism. Cosmism is an intellectual movement that ‘is based on a holistic and anthropocentric view of the universe which presupposed a teleologically determined – and thus meaningful – evolution; its adherents strive to redefine the role of humankind in a universe that lacks a divine plan for salvation, thus acknowledging the threat of self-destruction. As rational beings who are evolving out of the living matter (zhivoe veshcestvo) of the earth, human beings appear destined to become a decisive factor in cosmic evolution – a collective self-consciousness, active agent, and potential benefactor.’ 13 This evolution is considered to have as its gaol the reorganisation of humanity into a single organism with a ‘higher planetarian consciousness’, which will change and perfect the universe, overcome disease and death and eventually create an immortal humanity. 14 This belief was particularly strong in the 1920s, when scientists and intellectuals like Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Andrei Platonov and the historian Nikolai Rozhkov. Platonov stated that ‘thought’ would ‘easily and quickly destroy death by its systematic work, science’, while Rozhkov also preached the resurrection of the dead using science and technology. 15

In the contemporary West, Transhumanists such as Hans Moravec have looked forward to a post-human future in which humans download their personalities into immortal machines since the publication of Moravec’s book, Mind Children. Some Transhumanists do indeed recognise the similarity between their project and traditional theism. One of the leaders of the movement is married to a Methodist minister, and has stated that he and his religious wife have the same gaols, only they’re going about it in different ways. Other Transhumanists are vehemently anti-religious, such as Marshall Brain.

Thus, atheists may also have a belief in the afterlife, or look forward to the accomplishment of traditionally religious goals such as the resurrection of the dead or preservation of the human personality after death through high technology. Indeed, the philosopher John Searle described the Functionalist view of mind espoused by Daniel C. Dennett, in which minds could in theory be replicated in computers, as the last gasp of Cartesian dualism.

Just as atheism may include a belief in life after death, it is also true that some religions don’t have any conception of such a post-mortem existence, or give it little emphasis. In ancient Mesopotamia, for example, while there was indeed a life after death, this was a shadowy existence, like the shades in Sheol in the Old Testament. Indeed, ancient Israel looked for fulfilment in this life, rather than a reward in the hereafter. Corliss Lamont himself recognises this aspect of ancient Jewish religion in his approval of the supposedly this-worldly advocacy of worldly enjoyment in The Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes in the Bible. 16 In some tribal religions, while there may be a belief that the world is profuse with spirits in every object and organism, there may be no concept of an afterlife at all. Some pagan Finno-Ugrian peoples indeed believe that the soul was indissoluble linked with the body to the point where it also decayed after death.

‘The soul is, however, indissolubly linked to the body with which it forms an indivisible whole. Having no independent existence it dies with the body. That is why the Ingrians went to weep over the grave of the deceased and placed offerings there during a period roughly equivalent to the time of the body’s decomposition. Afterwards the grave was no longer visited for, they said, ‘there is no longer anything left of the soul’.’ 17 Thus even here there is no sharp distinction between religion and atheism. Certain atheist ideologies and philosophies looking forward to human survival after death and humans’ eventual resurrection, either in a psychic, disembodied state or through high technology and computer science. Some religions, on the other hand, may consider the afterlife to be merely a shadowy existence, while others have no conception of an afterlife.

No Clear Distinction between Atheism and Religion

Thus, regarding the list of features considered definitive of religion suggested by Rich

Origins Stories

Places of worship

Moral Codes

After-life stories

two, origins stories and moral codes, are shared by atheism in atheistic views of Neo-Darwinian evolution and the moral codes of personal autonomy, democracy, dignity and reason adopted by Humanism. Attitudes to the afterlife in religion and some forms of atheism may overlap, with some religions denying personal continuity after death, while some atheist ideologies look forward to post mortem human survival, either as a traditionally conceived spirit, or preserved as a computer programme. There is indeed a difference between organised atheism and traditional religion regarding places of worship. Atheism does not worship anything, unlike religion. However, it does share with people of faith buildings dedicated to the assembly of its adherents for ritual or ceremonial purposes, in which the worldview is expounded and a morality consistent with that worldview preached, and individuals encounter a deeper reality and its true nature. In the case of atheism, this may consistent of an awe felt at scientific discovery and the cosmos itself. Carl Sagan had a series of lectures published in which he expounded his anti-religious and scientific beliefs entitled, The Varieties of Scientific Experience. He deliberately chose the title to contrast with William James’ exploring of religious experience, The Varieties of Religious Experience. Nevertheless, both Sagan and Richard Dawkins strongly espouse a sense of cosmic wonder, which Dawkins has described in The God Delusion as mystical, even if he strongly rejects any similarity between this and religion.

Thus neither of those features in the list serves to distinguish atheism from religion. Rather than atheism and religion being completely separate, they may form part of a continuum of belief and even overlap in particular spheres of concern. Thus organised atheism does indeed participate in many of the activities and concerns of conventional religion, even if it strongly attacks it.

 

1. Mary Midgeley, Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears (London, Methuen 1985), p. 14.

2. Midgeley, Evolution as Religion, p. 15.

3. Midgeley, Evolution as Religion, p. 15.

4. Midgeley, Evolution as Religion, p. 15-16.

5. Midgeley, Evolution as Religion, p. 16.

6. John E. Smith, Quasi-Religions: Humanism, Marxism and Nationalism (Basingstoke, MacMillan 1994), p. 25.

7. Smith, Quasi-Religions, p. 42.

8. ‘Ethical Church’ in Christopher Cook, ed., Pears Cyclopedia 95th Edition (London, Pelham Books 1986), p. J18.

9. ‘Positivism’ in Cook, ed., Pears Cyclopedia 95th Edition (London, Pelham Books 1986), p. J40-1; Smith, Quasi-Religions, p. 26.

10. Richard Noll, The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement (London, FontanaPress 1996), pp. 54-5.

11. John Passmore, A Hundred Years of Philosophy (Harmondsworth, Penguin Books 1957), pp. 75-6.

12. Passmore, Hundred Years of Philosophy, p. 349.

13. Michael Hagemeister, ‘Russian Cosmism in the 1920s and Today’ in Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, ed., The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture (Ithaca, Cornell University Press 1997), pp. 185-6.

14. Hagemeister, ‘Russian Cosmism’ in Rosenthal, ed., The Occult, p. 186.

15. Hagemeister, ‘Russian Cosmism’ in Rosenthal, ed., The Occult, p. 188.

16. Smith, Quasi-Religions, p. 39.

17. F. Guirand, ‘Finno-Ugric Mythology’ in F. Guirand, ed., Richard Aldington and Delano Ames, trans., New LaRousse Encyclopedia of Mythology (London, Hamlyn 1959), p. 307.

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88 Responses to “Atheism as Religion: Part 2”

  1. Ilíon Says:

    … They were quasi-religions because they fulfilled some of the functions of religion, while departing from it in their this-worldly, anti-transcendentalist nature.

    Though, of course, few atheistic systems, and certainly very few of the ‘atheists’ one actually encounters, are *really* “this-worldly, anti-transcendentalist” — that’s just the surface posture (and sometimes, bombast). Scratch just about any ‘atheist’ and one finds someone who imagines himself superior (to the “stupid” ‘theist’ who scratched him) because the “knows the truth about the nature of reality.”

    ‘Atheists,’ almost to the man, are gnostics, when you get right down to it.

  2. Ilíon Says:

    … Nietzsche in the 19th century explored the implications of atheism for morality and human behaviour, and come up with his own, idiosyncratic moral conceptions. Instead of Christian slave morality, he posited egoism. In contrast to Judaeo-Christianity’s complete rejection of the negative parts of the human character, he recommended instead that they should be carefully cultivated, as if in a garden, as a way of promoting self-improvement. For example, an actor’s envy of another actor could, if properly cultivated by the aspiring superman, lead to the envious actor becoming a better actor. This radical negation of traditional Judaeo-Christian views of morality has failed to be accepted. Nevertheless, other atheists have continued the project of creating a godless morality.
    I don’t believe it’s really accurate to say that Judaism and Christianity “complete[ly] rejection of the negative parts of the human character.”

    Certainly, there are strains of thought in both which *attempt* to do so (witness the continuing fascination with ‘socialism,’ despite its utter and continuous failure).

    Rather, it seems to me that “mainstream” Judeo-Christian ethics has out-Nietzsched Nietzsche long before he was born. To use the example you give, submitting to God one’s natural (and sinful) envy towards one’s fellow — redeeming one’s sinful state — transforming one’s envy into a goad for self-improvement, has long been recognized in Jewish and Christian ethics as a good thing. (Further, I would say that ‘socialism’ is fascinating to Christians and Jews precisely to the degree in which they refuse to acknowledge their own individual envy and submit it to God).

  3. Rich Says:

    Perhaps here we see the rule of the tool: He who is good with a hammer sees everything as a nail.

    using a fair amount of conflation you’ve made some cases about groups that may be atheists meet these criteria.

    Here’s my personal take:

    Origins stories

    We may never “know” but big bang / abiogenises and evolution have to be front runners for me.

    Places of Worship

    Worship what, exactly? I watch soccer on Sundays. I’ve heard the same arguments that “sport has become their religion” as well. It didn’t fly then, either. I have regular, systematized habits and interactions, but they’re not worship.

    Morality Codes

    Internal, and relative. Probably and emergent property from evolving as a social animal.

    Afterlife Stories?

    Can’t know for sure, but I’m dead, the end, I am no more – is the front runner.

    Atheism seems to bring consdierable angst to the faithfull. Actually, you should leave us be. “Have no gods before me” – we don’t. We just have no gods at all. Go pick on the Muslims or something. But you don’t, all faiths seem to join ranks in their dislike of atheists. Any god is better than no god, it seems.

    Right – I’m off to engage in my favourite hobby: Not collecting stamps.

  4. Rich Says:

    “Evolution as a Religion”: weak.

    Midgeley is at best a muddled thinker and at worst an odious tard.

  5. beastrabban Says:

    Hi Ilion, thanks for your comments.

    Regarding your observation Atheists,’ almost to the man, are gnostics, when you get right down to it , I have to say that I know many atheists here in Britain who don’t quite have that attitude. But it does describe the attitude behind much of the organised atheism and misotheism of the Brights, New Atheism and much of Secular Humanism. Certainly there is a strong sense that they believe that they, and only they, have the truth, and that this truth will liberate you from the false views of the world which are enslaving you.

    Regarding your observation about Christianity and Judaism harnessing the evil inclinations for good, there’s more than an element of truth there. Rabbi Lionel Blue, who was a favourite guest on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day said in his books that one of the great rabbis of Jewish tradition pointed out that although lust technically belonged to ‘the evil inclination’, as I understand Judaism terms the negative, fallen aspect of the human character, nevertheless it was good in that without lust, there would be no marriage and no children, which are two obvious goods.

    However, for the most part Christianity and Judaism has stressed avoiding and trying to free one from the negative aspects of the character. Righteous anger is acceptable and praiseworthy, but Christianity, Judaism and the other world religions would stress love and disavow hatred and the other completely negative aspects of human psychology. Nietzsche, on the other hand, suggests that they could be helpfully cultivated.

    As for socialism, part of its fascination may indeed be the envy of the have-nots for the haves. However, one stream of socialism took its inspiration from Christianity, even if the theological justification for it is extremely doubtful. Thomas Spence, an early 19th century British Utopian socialist, was originally a member of the Glassites, a small Protestant sect based in the north of England who preached, and partly practised, the community of property. Although he became a Deist, he partly based his arguments for the communal ownership of property on scripture. The 19th century German Jewish socialist zionist, Moses Hess, argued for a socialist Jewish homeland based on his perception of ancient Israel as a state based on transcendent moral laws in which the poor, the widow and the orphan were uniquely protected by the state.

    Now no political or economic system is perfect, and while capitalism certainly has outperfromed the completely socialised economies of Communism, it can leave certain sections of society behind through no fault of their own, such as the genuinely sick and unemployed. In Britain much of the support for socialism came at the beginning of the 20th century with a report by the Rowntree Foundation, a charitable organisation founded by the Quaker philanthropist and industrialist, Joseph Rowntree. This stated that despite the vast wealth enjoyed by Britain nationally as a leading industrial nation possessed of a vast empire comprising one sixth of the Earth’s peoples, there was vast, grinding poverty. As a result, many leading members of Edwardian British society became convinced that there was something seriously wrong with the British system, and so urged more progressive, socialistic reforms.

    It’s also fair to say that historically British socialism, at least, repudiated class envy. The left-wing intellectuals who founded the ancestors of the British Labour party in the 19th century were opposed to the idea of class warfare. One of the clauses in the constitution of the Labour Party even today is a statement against class warfare. This was used in 1917 and afterwards to distinguish the Labour Party very firmly from the Communist Party, and expel those with Communist inclinations.

    Now my point here isn’t to argue whether the democratic, reformist socialism of the contemporary European left is necessarily good or bad, merely to make the point that many of the founders and adherents of that form of socialism embraced it because they felt that it best expressed Christian values, just as those Christians who ardently believe that democracy and the free-market also do.

  6. beastrabban Says:

    Rich, it simply isn’t the case that He who is good with a hammer sees everything as a nail. My point is simply that religion is such a notoriously difficult thing to define that its definition will include many of the features of organised atheism, and that organised atheism adopts some of the sociological features of religion.

    Regarding your personal take on origins stories, morality codes and places of worship, none of these actually refute the proposition that atheism has these, or in the form of places of worship, something that acts analogously. Remember an atheist meeting hall will act as a place where the central doctrine of the philosophy is expounded, sometimes in a set, ritualist fashion, and its adherents will feel connected to an ultimate truth that changes their lives, even if they aren’t technically worshipping anything.

    As for your statement that the designation of religion can’t mean much, when soccer can be so described, Midgeley actually provides a counterargument against that argument in Evolution as a Religion . The sport she uses in the analogy is golf. People might describe golf as a religion, but it is not a ‘ultimate concern’ in which all other views of reality are ordered.

    Midgeley is at best a muddled thinker and at worst an odious tard.
    Yes, the idea that evolutionism can be considered a religion is counter-intuitive. The woman who served me in the shop where I bought the book made a dismissive snort when she saw the title. It doesn’t mean that Midgeley is wrong though, and she makes a very, very good case. Your comment isn’t a counterargument, but a simple ad hominem .

  7. Ilíon Says:

    My point is simply that religion is such a notoriously difficult thing to define that its definition will include many of the features of organised atheism, and that organised atheism adopts some of the sociological features of religion.

    Time magazine: Sunday School for Atheists

  8. Rich Says:

    correct, It’s an ad hominem. It’s also true.

    More later, gotta go to the church of Darwin to pray at the tree of life, so that I might speciate.

  9. Rich Says:

    An interview on a Granada Television chat-show hosted by Shelley Rohde in 1981 produced arguably Shankly’s most famous (and most often misquoted) quote – “Someone said ‘football is more important than life and death to you’ and I said ‘Listen, it’s more important than that’.”

    I can understand not getting excited by Golf, though.

    WRT *my* experiences. I am your black swan. Whilst you may see analogs, clearly they are not required and not components.

  10. beastrabban Says:

    Hi, Ilion, thanks for the link to the Time magazine story, ‘Sunday School for Atheists’. That’s actually what provoked me to write these pieces about the similarities between certain forms of atheism and religion.

    Rich, the comment correct, It’s an ad hominem. It’s also true. isn’t any kind of rebuttal. Whether you agree with Midgeley or not, she’s a very well respected philosopher, and very clearly sets out here case for evolutionism as a religion through the metaphysical notions with which some evolutionists have invested the doctrine far beyond its relevance or meaning as a scientific theory or fact.

    As for the quote about football, yeah, that one’s notorious. I’ve got a feeling it got into Private Eye’s ‘Colemanballs’ column as a prime example of sports commentators saying something completely ridiculous.

    Regarding your comment WRT *my* experiences. I am your black swan. Whilst you may see analogs, clearly they are not required and not components. , actually, nothing you’ve said yourself contradicts my position that for some, atheism fulfills an essentially religious function.

    It clearly is a subject of ‘ultimate concern’ for you, otherwise you wouldn’t be here arguing about it. Nor would you resent the presence of religion in the public sphere. By your own admission, Neo-Darwinian evolution, abiogenesis and the Big Bang act as your secular origin theories; you have a secular model of morality, which includes values of ‘ultimate allegiance’ such as desiring a secular state. Now you don’t believe in life after death, but a lot of religions don’t have that either, as I said. Only in you’re not going to a specific place of worship or assembly do you differ essentially from religious praxis, and even then, the difference here is not as great as you assume. One could compare you to the ‘Christians without belonging’ who consider themselves to be Christians, but don’t go to church, or some of the tribal religions that actually don’t have a set place of religious assembly either.

  11. JOR Says:

    To add to what Beast has said here, arguing that these origin theories and models of morality, or whatever, are correct is not the same as arguing that they are nonreligious. Saying, ‘atheism is true therefore it is not a religion’ is a non-sequitur (I think it’s a mistake to describe atheism as a religion as it involves a category error; atheism inhabits the same category as theism, pantheism, polytheism, etc. and is not itself specific enough to be described as a religion).

  12. Rich Says:

    “for some, atheism fulfills an essentially religious function. ”

    for some, Soccer fulfills an essentially religious function.

    for some, Family fulfills an essentially religious function.

    for some, Work fulfills an essentially religious function.

    for some, Politics fulfills an essentially religious function.

    ..Some…essentially….

  13. beastrabban Says:

    Rich, I answer that objection in my original reply to your post: As for your statement that the designation of religion can’t mean much, when soccer can be so described, Midgeley actually provides a counterargument against that argument in Evolution as a Religion . The sport she uses in the analogy is golf. People might describe golf as a religion, but it is not a ‘ultimate concern’ in which all other views of reality are ordered. The same will apply to all the other factors or concerns you list above.

    As I said, you really don’t have any real counterarguments, and are now just ranting.

  14. beastrabban Says:

    Hi JOR – thanks for the reply. Yeah, I can see the logic in that, viewing atheism as a category of religious/ metaphysical concern or speculation, rather than a religion per se. I suspect that the extension of this would be to talk about ‘atheisms’ rather than ‘atheism’ considering the differences of Secularist and Atheist opinion, such as those between Humanists and Nihilists, for example.

    It might be counterintuitive, but some scholars of religion have done it for particular faiths, such as Islam. I’ve heard of Western scholars of Islam talking about ‘Islams’ in order to make the point that there are different varieties of Islam and it can be extremely difficult to reduce Islam to an eternally valid cultural essence.

  15. Annyday Says:

    Your logical fallacies are showing.

    All objects of type A are both B and C.

    Some objects of type D are B.

    Therefore, all objects of type D are also C.

    Therefore, all objects of type D are A, or

    D = A.

    The bulk of your “argument” is essentially emphasizing, in detail, how much “some objects of type D are B”, and nearly completely ignoring the question of whether B is a defining feature of either D or A.

    I’ll give you an example:

    All atheists do not believe in God, and do not believe in a divinely guided morality.

    Some Christians doubt the existence of God.

    Therefore, no Christians believe in a divinely guided morality either.

    Therefore, Christianity is atheism.

    Or:

    “Up” is a direction along an axis.

    “Down” is the opposite of “up”.

    however

    “Down” is also a direction along an axis.

    Therefore, “down” is the same as “up”.

    Therefore, “down” is the opposite of itself.

    I could go on to “prove” that all Christians are secretly Confucians, all Hindus are Muslim, that hot is cold, and so on. I could quote long passages of crisis-of-faith, why-have-you-forsaken-me Christian poetry “proving” that Christianity is atheism. If I went on for a really long time about this, it might have the sheen of professional philosophy and good rhetoric that you display.

    The logic would still be crap, however.

  16. Rich Says:

    No, you’re ranting. See, I can ‘elevate’ my dialogiue to that level also. I know people who live their lives around match day. So don’t speak for everyone, because you can’t.

    Religion, is like UFOology, or mediums.

    Some folks belive it without any positive position. I suggest you’re making one bad category error, and as Anny points out, your logic is wrong.

  17. beastrabban Says:

    Annyday – thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, you’re showing your own prejudices in the post. Firstly, I state very clearly that religion is a notoriously difficult thing to define, and what are considered to be definitive features, such as the existence of a god, may be absent entirely from some religions. This is a statement of fact, not a failure to consider whether or not D = A or whatever. Furthermore, as I point in this and the previous post, some definitions of religion will also cover certain forms of atheism. The fact that you don’t like this, or find it counterintuitive, or want religion to mean theism or the supernatural is irrelevant. It’s a statement of fact.

    Now I’m sure that you probably could argue that Christianity = atheism, Hinduism = Islam or whatever. Nevertheless, as you yourself admit, that would be a form of sophistry. However, as these things, by a core definition, exclude being something else. But religion is far harder to define. The very term implies inclusion, rather than exclusion: re-ligere to tie or bind together. At it’s heart it is about ultimate connections, and this is implied by certain forms of atheism.

    As I said, there isn’t any clear demarcation between religion or atheism, and my whole point was that certain forms of atheism take out quasi-religious role. However counterintuitive this is, it is true. So my logic still holds.

    Rich, let’s take your comments: No, you’re ranting. See, I can ‘elevate’ my dialogiue to that level also. Tit for tat, and not an argument. And I wasn’t, simply making an observation. You were shouting, sneering and simply repeating yourself. This constitutes ranting.

    I know people who live their lives around match day. So don’t speak for everyone, because you can’t. Again, you’ve missed the point. They might live their lives for match day, but this does not structure their view of reality, unless they really believe that football is at the heart of the nature of the cosmos, which somehow I doubt.

    Religion, is like UFOology, or mediums. Actually, I could make a good case for both of these being surrogates for traditional religion. There is a lot of research done by CSICOP actually charting the rise of belief in the paranormal to a decline in traditional religion. There indeed UFO religions – Unarius, the Aetherius Society and the Raelians, and mediumship can indeed also be considered a religion. If you felt you were going to offend me by mentioning the similarity between religion, UFOs and mediumship, then you’re seriously mistaken.

    Some folks belive it without any positive position. That can apply to just about any belief, including the ardent belief that there is no God.

    I suggest you’re making one bad category error, and as Anny points out, your logic is wrong.

    Nope – as I said, there’s a problem with the categories themselves. As for my logic being wrong – no, I’m very sure of my logic.

    Rich, I’m not surprise Frank banned you on the Atheism Sucks blog. It’s clear that when you find yourself beaten in argument, you’re reduced to sneering and trolling. Now this is your warning here. If you can comment without sneering, shouting or making demands of the ‘SHUT UP’ variety, you’re welcome here. However, if you can’t, you’ll be banned.

  18. Rich Says:

    “Shut up” wasn’t directed at you but at the evangelical enterprize. If you can’t see this, then I’m sorry. If the definition of religion is so nebulous and arbitrary then there is little point discussing if X is a religion. Is the absence of something a thing? All good mental fodder. Be carefull, censorship may seem to the impartial observer to be a bad thing. The charge of “sneering” is a bit like religion in that it is very nebulous. Perhaps it is a religion? Just pretend all my posts have smiley emoticons at the end. Ranting has also been arbitrarily defined in this post. Be carefull.

    “And I wasn’t, simply making an observation” – and I was simply observing that you are ranting. That is all. Do you see the problem?

    “That can apply to just about any belief, including the ardent belief that there is no God.” – ah good stuff. We of course can’t prove a negative. This is why the burden of proof isn’t with us. I can create a million unknowable entities – but I should have to prove them.

    WRT Ufoolgy and mediums, I’m pleased you see the connection. The commonality for me is no positive evidence.

    Thanks for showing your true colours and a happy christmas to you and yours.

  19. beastrabban Says:

    Rich, from the tenor of your post I’m not the only one who has shown himself in his true colours. Let’s go through your comments.

    “Shut up” wasn’t directed at you but at the evangelical enterprize. If you can’t see this, then I’m sorry. I know precisely who it was directed at. It doesn’t change a thing. You still want people to shut up when they express a view different from yours.

    If the definition of religion is so nebulous and arbitrary then there is little point discussing if X is a religion. Actually, I did provide definitions of religion that proved it was more than simply an absence of something. You assumed that religion by definition = no god, but as I showed, this is not something intrinsic to religion.

    and I was simply observing that you are ranting. That is all. Do you see the problem? No, you were merely trying a tit-for-tat comment to cover the paucity of your arguments.

    This is why the burden of proof isn’t with us. I can create a million unknowable entities – but I should have to prove them. ‘Fraid the burden of proof is with you. You can posit any number of imaginary entities you like, such as the Flying Spagnetti Monster or Russell’s orbiting teapot, but none of them are necessary entities like God. So the burden of proof is still with the atheist.

    The commonality for me is no positive evidence. Yeah, I realised that.

    Anyway, thanks for revealing your true self this Christmas. I wish you and your family too all the best for the Christmas season.

  20. Rich Says:

    Prove god is necessary. Please. We’ll all convert. Not sure ro which faith, though.

    The ‘ranting’ point which I think you may have missed is that its an arbitrarty charge.

  21. beastrabban Says:

    Prove god is necessary.
    Easy. Unlike invisible unicorns, the orbiting teapot, Sagan’s invisible dragon in the dragon or Flying Spaghettin Monster, the existence of God is intimately connected to the universe, which is created by God. God is by His very nature a necessary being, not an extra object added to the cosmos like invisible unicorns, dragons or orbiting teapots. Also, nobody, but nobody, as ever worshipped the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    The ‘ranting’ point which I think you may have missed is that its an arbitrarty charge.

    No, your command for theists to shut up, and the repetitive ‘some… essentially’ comments all had a very high emotional charge of anger behind them, or so it seemed to me. Thus I saw them as ranting.

  22. Annyday Says:

    “Now I’m sure that you probably could argue that Christianity = atheism, Hinduism = Islam or whatever. Nevertheless, as you yourself admit, that would be a form of sophistry.”

    That’s the point. This entire exercise is a form of sophistry. It’s a bizarre play on the fuzzy definition of “religion”. A religion is essentially anything anyone cares about, since any action or emotion implies a value system you could call “religious” if you really want to.

    Since this definition of religion can encompass anything at all, it’s basically meaningless. “Religion” stops meaning anything useful. If you stretch any definition this far, you can conflate all kinds of stupid things however you feel like- up is down, hot is cold, and so on- without saying anything meaningful or important about their fundamental qualities.

    This is great, but ultimately totally pointless. You can make a meaningful comparison between religious institutions and nonreligious institutions, but simply trying to state that everything is “religious” without even meaningfully defining what that means is a rhetorical trick.

  23. JOR Says:

    “This is great, but ultimately totally pointless. You can make a meaningful comparison between religious institutions and nonreligious institutions, but simply trying to state that everything is “religious” without even meaningfully defining what that means is a rhetorical trick.”

    It should only seem like a rhetorical trick if you think associating something with ‘religion’ is the same as saying it is incorrect, or irrational.

    “Since this definition of religion can encompass anything at all, it’s basically meaningless.”

    Ugh, no it doesn’t. It makes it useless as an anti-conversation sneer. Not for other things, like conversation.

  24. Annyday Says:

    Yes it does.

    You have taught us the following about atheism:

    1) It involves cultural symbols.
    2) It sometimes involves social institutions or ideologies.

    Can you find anything to do with humans at all that does not meet these criterea? If so, you might be making meaningful comparisons and observations. If not, it’s a rhetorical trick, and “religious” by your definition means essentially “pertaining to humans”.

  25. Mark Says:

    Rabban, your proof that God is necessary is, “the existence of God is intimately connected to the universe, which is created by God. God is by His very nature a necessary being, not an extra object added to the cosmos. . . .”

    If one believes in explanations based on facts and repeatable observations, science seems to have the correct answers right back to The Beginning. Unless you’re advocating a Meddling God, I don’t see how God is necessary for anything other than the initial creation of the universe via the Big Bang. And even then I could make a case that God wasn’t necessary for that event if one posits that the universe is part of a larger, “infinte” framework (a multiverse, if you will).

    I guess proof of God’s existence, let alone necessity, for me at least, boils down to “show me a picture or it didn’t happen.” Can you provide a picture, metaphorically speaking?

    Thank you.

  26. Ilíon Says:

    Regarding your observation ‘Atheists,’ almost to the man, are gnostics, when you get right down to it, I have to say that I know many atheists here in Britain who don’t quite have that attitude. But it does describe the attitude behind much of the organised atheism and misotheism of the Brights, New Atheism and much of Secular Humanism. Certainly there is a strong sense that they believe that they, and only they, have the truth, and that this truth will liberate you from the false views of the world which are enslaving you.

    That statement was made as a summation of the paragraph preceding it. (And, you’ll notice, that in both the statement and the paragraph I tried to be clear that I was making a generalization.)

    Now, myself, I’m an American; while I encounter hordes of fellow-citizens (including most of my relatives) who live as though they were ‘atheists,’ I encounter in-the-flesh very few who make that claim of themselves. One does encounter the occasional stereotypical “village atheist” — who, even if wholly inarticulate, seems nearly always to think himself in some way or ways superior, by dint of his atheism.

    But, in general, my “personal” encounter with self-professed ‘atheists’ is via the medium of internet discussion boards. And it has never seemed to matter whether they are Americans or Europeans, they seem always to be what I long ago began to call “evangelical atheists” (while I invented that locution on my own, I’m certainly not the only, or even the first, to have done so); that is, to be persons with much the same mind-sets, attitudes, inclinations, behaviors — and arguments, if one may call them that — as, say, Dawkins or other of the “Brights.”

    One generalizes on the basis of the particulars one knows.

    And one of the amusing things I noticed about these “evangelical atheists” is that they tend to think themselves morally superior to us, because they obviously know the truth about the nature of reality. In that sentence, I’m not using ‘moral’ strictly in the sense of ‘morality’ (though, they tend to have that attitude, also), but in the sense of “moral worth.” They tend to see themselves as being more highly valued, apparently because they’re more intelligent than I (as is self-evident, for they see through the illusion). But who is valuing them — and the logical implication that this belief in their higher value necessarily invalidites their ‘atheism’ — just never seems to register as an issue.

    As for socialism, part of its fascination may indeed be the envy of the have-nots for the haves. However, one stream of socialism took its inspiration from Christianity, even if the theological justification for it is extremely doubtful. … It’s also fair to say that historically British socialism, at least, repudiated class envy.

    Who said anything about the “have-nots” envying the “haves?” Or even about class-warfare, for that matter? I spoke of envy and the refusal to acknowledge that one has it and to submit it to God.

    In America, the proponents of socialism are almost never “have-nots” (In American, “have-nots” and former “have-nots,” such as I, tend to be the most opposed to socialism). They tend to be very much the “haves” (and, incidentally, they tend to use class-warfare rhetoric as the justification for their positions, despite that we really have no classes).

    However, one stream of socialism took its inspiration from Christianity, even if the theological justification for it is extremely doubtful. … Now my point here isn’t to argue whether the democratic, reformist socialism of the contemporary European left is necessarily good or bad, merely to make the point that many of the founders and adherents of that form of socialism embraced it because they felt that it best expressed Christian values, just as those Christians who ardently believe that democracy and the free-market also do.

    Socialism can be seen as a Christian heresy. But then, most of the flawed movements in Western society might be seen as Christian heresies. Including “Enlightenment” ‘atheism.’

    I also have no particular desire to get into the muddle of that particular argument. However, if I did, I would suggest that these people were deluding themselves and that envy — “substitutionary envy” if that helps you see what I’m getting at — not Christianity, was at the root of their movements.

  27. Rich Says:

    I’m not sure I follow the proof of God. Could you simplify it for me?

  28. Ilíon Says:

    BR to Rich:Rich, I’m not surprise Frank banned you on the Atheism Sucks blog. It’s clear that when you find yourself beaten in argument, you’re reduced to sneering and trolling …
    While I do agree that your assessment of Rich’s behavior is correct, I simply must point out that Mr Walton isn’t much different. He’s much given to the personal (and pointless) attack; and he doesn’t like to called on it.

    In an effort to spare you the post asking me what I mean, I’ll try to explain now. The specific example I have in mind — and only because I became involved at one time; there are many similar examples — is his constant reference to the “Mr Constantine” fellow as “Mrs Constantine.”

  29. Rich Says:

    Hi Ilíon. I’d like to extend my invitation to you, and any other readers also.

  30. Ilíon Says:

    Rich:Prove god is necessary. Please. We’ll all convert. Not sure ro which faith, though.

    That’s easy: to the “faith” demands the least; to the “faith” that allows you to continue to play God.

    It has been proven over and over that God is necessary. You folk don’t listen.

    BR to Rich:Prove god is necessary.
    Easy. Unlike invisible unicorns, the orbiting teapot, Sagan’s invisible dragon in the dragon or Flying Spaghettin Monster, the existence of God is intimately connected to the universe, which is created by God. God is by His very nature a necessary being, not an extra object added to the cosmos like invisible unicorns, dragons or orbiting teapots. Also, nobody, but nobody, as ever worshipped the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Rich:I’m not sure I follow the proof of God. Could you simplify it for me?

    In a nut-shell: *You* are the indisputable proof (in contrast to mere ‘evidence’) that there is a God. If you choose to deny that there exists a God, then you must logically end up denying that you, yourself, exist. But, it is absurd to assert that you, yourself, do not exist; therefore, you know that the denial that God exists is absurd; therefore you know that God exists.

  31. Ilíon Says:

    Rich, when you ask “simplify the argument” (how could it be any more simplified than the bare-bones summation BR gave?), I think that what you really mean is “*Force* me to acknowledge that!

  32. Rich Says:

    I’m trying to be on my best behaviour. This perhaps mirrors my thoughts:

    http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?act=SP;f=14;t=5340;p=89897

  33. Ilíon Says:

    No doubt.

    As I said, you aren’t listening. And a big part of not listening is to make a straw-man characature of whatever-it-is that one is not listening to.

  34. Annyday Says:

    “In a nut-shell: *You* are the indisputable proof (in contrast to mere ‘evidence’) that there is a God. If you choose to deny that there exists a God, then you must logically end up denying that you, yourself, exist. But, it is absurd to assert that you, yourself, do not exist; therefore, you know that the denial that God exists is absurd; therefore you know that God exists.”

    Dude, what? I’ve read fair bit of theology and this one is totally new to me. Descartes’ argument in favor of the existence of God is vaguely reminiscent of this, only it actually makes sense. Where is the argument connecting denial of the existence of God with denying your own existence? Personally, I think if you’re going to accuse someone of denying their own existence, you should be required to make a case that they are doing so rather than just asserting it.

  35. Ilíon Says:

    Dude, that’s not Descartes.

    So far as I have been able to determine, that is me (and, as I said, that is the nutshell version).

  36. Annyday Says:

    Explain it again. Slowly. About how … denying the existence of God involves denying your own existence, so everyone should know a priori that God exists.

    I am trying to figure out how precisely this makes sense. It might also be a convoluted version of an argument from design, which I remember from Aquinas. That would be comfortingly familiar.

  37. Ilíon Says:

    [Since this blog software doesn’t display the email address that it requires one to give to make a post, my email address, in case anyone should want it, is: ilion7@hotmail.com (ilion7 at hotmail dot com)]

    Annyday:Explain it again. Slowly.

    Slowly is exactly what I have in mind. What I mean is that I intend to let *you* make the argument … and since herding people is even more difficult than herding cats, this could take days, or even weeks, for us to work through.

    Annyday:I am trying to figure out how precisely this makes sense.

    I much doubt that you really are “trying to figure out how precisely this makes sense” (or that you will try). My skepticism is neither here nor there, of course. Though, I fully expect you to demonstrate it to be well-placed. Consider that a ‘prediction.’

    Annyday:It might also be a convoluted version of an argument from design, which I remember from Aquinas. That would be comfortingly familiar.

    By which comfort you doubtless mean that you *imagine* Aquinas has been refuted — possibly by the mere fact that you are free to deny, or even to simply ignore, his argument(s); possibly because someone else has simply asserted that Aquinas has been refuted; possibly because Aquinas made his arguments many hundreds of years ago (and so, ipso facto, they are “irrelevant”).

    And as for “convoluted” — I do not doubt that you hold the simplicity (or, at least, directness) of Aquinas’ arguments against them; perhaps even imagining that they are disproven by their simplicity or directness. IF my argument is indeed convoluted, I do not doubt that you will claim that that fact invalidates it.

    =================
    A digression: And I don’t in the least care how much *you* or anyone else may whine about what I say now; though, as this is BeastRabban’s blog, if he does not want me to be so direct in the future, I will do my best to refrain. I *expect* you or some other ‘atheist’ to whine that I am attacking/insulting you (singular and collective). Let me be more blunt about this: I expect someone to lie that I am leveling an invalid personal attack or insult. The truth is that I am attacking and will attack (and “insult”) your (collective) beliefs and behaviors. If you think that Frank Walton is “bad,” be assured that I make him look like a piker (and this is because he *does* go for invalid and pointless personal insult; if he’d lay off that, he could be far more effective than I).

    So, the digression:

    Another way to understand what I have said above and will say below — and I want this to be understood, which is why I’m explicitly saying it now — is that I mean to set a trap for you (and/or Rich, and/or any other ‘atheist’ who happens to bump into BR’s blog and this thread).

    I’ll be blunt: I don’t expect you or any other ‘atheist’ to admit that this is a logically sound and valid argument; much less do I expect any ‘atheist’ to admit, on the basis of this or any other argument, that there is indeed, a God. It is, of course, not utterly impossible for an ‘atheist’ to admit the truth of the matter; but just as the ‘atheist’ nearly always settled on ‘atheism’ for non-rational reasons, it is rarely reasoned argument that leads him to abandon his stance.

    I have never yet personally encountered an ‘atheist’ who is intellectually honest — or even wholly logical/rational — when it comes to the question of God. In this wide world, there may well be some, somewhere; but what exists is a different matter from what any one of us knows of or has encountered.

    Simply consider (the notorious) Anthony Flew, whom, of course, I haven’t personally encountered, though I have read his recently co-authored book about his personal journey into “theism” — understand that the man’s long-standing civility, in contradistinction to the “New Atheists,” is a different matter from his irrationality regarding God. It has taken this man an entire life-time to admit that his foundational premise, “There is no God,” is false. He now acknowledges that the old/classic arguments for God are good, whereas he has spent a life-time denying that they are. But nothing has changed … except in what he is willing to admit.

    Consider what it is that Rich put forward as perhaps mirroring his thought:
    [“Prove God is necessary.”
    .
    “Easy! He’s necessary because I say He’s necessary.”
    ]

    There was no “perhaps” about it; that precisely mirrors Rich’s “thought” — and Rich’s “thought” is intellectually dishonest (which is why I have put ‘thought’ in scare-quotes), while directly echoing the “thought” of every other ‘atheist’ I have ever encountered.

    For at least 2000 years, Christians and Jews have been been presenting rational/logical arguments that there is a God (and certain *pagan* Greek philosophers did so up to 500 years BC).

    And how to ‘atheists’ *always* respond? Why, exactly as Rich “perhaps” does: with dishonest misrepresentation and a brush-off. They respond exactly as anyone attending to Annyday’s post can clearly see that he already has — before we have even worked through my argument, Annyday has already dismissed it as ineffective and worthless!

    There is not, and has never been, nor will ever be, a good (i.e. logical and rational) argument *for* ‘atheism.’ One might as well hope for a good argument that “1+1=42;” it simply cannot be done honestly.

    So, given my expressed opinion of the attidudes and (expected) behaviors of ‘atheists,’ in general, why even bother with trying to work through this argument? There are several reasons, interrelated, among which are:

    1) In respect to ‘atheists’ and ‘atheism:’ to demonstrate (one again, for it has been demonstrated innumerable times already) in real-time and using real, live ‘atheists’ as the subjects, that ‘atheism’ is irrational; that ‘atheists’ maintain their ‘atheism’ via irrationality.

    Certainly, when we have worked through this, it is not utterly impossible that Annyday (or Rich or some other ‘atheist’) will acknowledge that ‘atheism’ is false. But don’t bet the farm on it. What is far more likely is that each of them will go off into one, or even several, of various irrationalities: simply denying what he knows, positing ad hoc conjectures, positing Buddhism as a “refutation” of Christianity, etc, etc.

    2) In respect to Christians: our spiritual ancestors chickened-out 200 years ago in response to those silly “Enlightened” ‘atheists’ and their (intentionally) misdirected and misapplied “arguments.” Over the past generation or so, Christian thinkers (CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Alvin Plantinga and many others) have been turning this around. This argument is part of that advance; the time of retreat is over: Christ didn’t call us to be cowering fideists.

    =================

  38. Ilíon Says:

    test … is it that the post I tried to make is too long?

  39. Ilíon Says:

    apparently so

    (Since this blog software doesn’t display the email address that it requires one to give to make a post, my email address, in case anyone should want it, is: ilion7@hotmail.com (ilion7 at hotmail dot com) )

    Annyday:Explain it again. Slowly.

    Slowly is exactly what I have in mind. What I mean is that I intend to let *you* make the argument … and since herding people is even more difficult than herding cats, this could take days, or even weeks, for us to work through.

    Annyday:I am trying to figure out how precisely this makes sense.

    I much doubt that you really are “trying to figure out how precisely this makes sense” (or that you will try). My skepticism is neither here nor there, of course. Though, I fully expect you to demonstrate it to be well-placed. Consider that a ‘prediction.’

    Annyday:It might also be a convoluted version of an argument from design, which I remember from Aquinas. That would be comfortingly familiar.

    By which comfort you doubtless mean that you *imagine* Aquinas has been refuted — possibly by the mere fact that you are free to deny, or even to simply ignore, his argument(s); possibly because someone else has simply asserted that Aquinas has been refuted; possibly because Aquinas made his arguments many hundreds of years ago (and so, ipso facto, they are “irrelevant”).

    And as for “convoluted” — I do not doubt that you hold the simplicity (or, at least, directness) of Aquinas’ arguments against them; perhaps even imagining that they are disproven by their simplicity or directness. IF my argument is indeed convoluted, I do not doubt that you will claim that that fact invalidates it.

  40. Ilíon Says:

    A digression: And I don’t in the least care how much *you* or anyone else may whine about what I say now; though, as this is BeastRabban’s blog, if he does not want me to be so direct in the future, I will do my best to refrain. I *expect* you or some other ‘atheist’ to whine that I am attacking/insulting you (singular and collective). Let me be more blunt about this: I expect someone to lie that I am leveling an invalid personal attack or insult. The truth is that I am attacking and will attack (and “insult”) your (collective) beliefs and behaviors. If you think that Frank Walton is “bad,” be assured that I make him look like a piker (and this is because he *does* go for invalid and pointless personal insult; if he’d lay off that, he could be far more effective than I).

    So, the digression:

    Another way to understand what I have said above and will say below — and I want this to be understood, which is why I’m explicitly saying it now — is that I mean to set a trap for you (and/or Rich, and/or any other ‘atheist’ who happens to bump into BR’s blog and this thread).

    I’ll be blunt: I don’t expect you or any other ‘atheist’ to admit that this is a logically sound and valid argument; much less do I expect any ‘atheist’ to admit, on the basis of this or any other argument, that there is indeed, a God. It is, of course, not utterly impossible for an ‘atheist’ to admit the truth of the matter; but just as the ‘atheist’ nearly always settled on ‘atheism’ for non-rational reasons, it is rarely reasoned argument that leads him to abandon his stance.

    I have never yet personally encountered an ‘atheist’ who is intellectually honest — or even wholly logical/rational — when it comes to the question of God. In this wide world, there may well be some, somewhere; but what exists is a different matter from what any one of us knows of or has encountered.

    Simply consider (the notorious) Anthony Flew, whom, of course, I haven’t personally encountered, though I have read his recently co-authored book about his personal journey into “theism” — understand that the man’s long-standing civility, in contradistinction to the “New Atheists,” is a different matter from his irrationality regarding God. It has taken this man an entire life-time to admit that his foundational premise, “There is no God,” is false. He now acknowledges that the old/classic arguments for God are good, whereas he has spent a life-time denying that they are. But nothing has changed … except in what he is willing to admit.

    Consider what it is that Rich put forward as perhaps mirroring his thought:
    [“Prove God is necessary.”
    .
    “Easy! He’s necessary because I say He’s necessary.”
    ]

    There was no “perhaps” about it; that precisely mirrors Rich’s “thought” — and Rich’s “thought” is intellectually dishonest (which is why I have put ‘thought’ in scare-quotes), while directly echoing the “thought” of every other ‘atheist’ I have ever encountered.

    For at least 2000 years, Christians and Jews have been been presenting rational/logical arguments that there is a God (and certain *pagan* Greek philosophers did so up to 500 years BC).

    And how to ‘atheists’ *always* respond? Why, exactly as Rich “perhaps” does: with dishonest misrepresentation and a brush-off. They respond exactly as anyone attending to Annyday’s post can clearly see that he already has — before we have even worked through my argument, Annyday has already dismissed it as ineffective and worthless!

    There is not, and has never been, nor will ever be, a good (i.e. logical and rational) argument *for* ‘atheism.’ One might as well hope for a good argument that “1+1=42;” it simply cannot be done honestly.

    So, given my expressed opinion of the attidudes and (expected) behaviors of ‘atheists,’ in general, why even bother with trying to work through this argument? There are several reasons, interrelated, among which are:

    1) In respect to ‘atheists’ and ‘atheism:’ to demonstrate (one again, for it has been demonstrated innumerable times already) in real-time and using real, live ‘atheists’ as the subjects, that ‘atheism’ is irrational; that ‘atheists’ maintain their ‘atheism’ via irrationality.

    Certainly, when we have worked through this, it is not utterly impossible that Annyday (or Rich or some other ‘atheist’) will acknowledge that ‘atheism’ is false. But don’t bet the farm on it. What is far more likely is that each of them will go off into one, or even several, of various irrationalities: simply denying what he knows, positing ad hoc conjectures, positing Buddhism as a “refutation” of Christianity, etc, etc.

    2) In respect to Christians: our spiritual ancestors chickened-out 200 years ago in response to those silly “Enlightened” ‘atheists’ and their (intentionally) misdirected and misapplied “arguments.” Over the past generation or so, Christian thinkers (CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Alvin Plantinga and many others) have been turning this around. This argument is part of that advance; the time of retreat is over: Christ didn’t call us to be cowering fideists.

  41. Ilíon Says:

    or, perhaps it has to do with the square-brackets I used in the text of the post …

    A digression: And I don’t in the least care how much *you* or anyone else may whine about what I say now; though, as this is BeastRabban’s blog, if he does not want me to be so direct in the future, I will do my best to refrain. I *expect* you or some other ‘atheist’ to whine that I am attacking/insulting you (singular and collective). Let me be more blunt about this: I expect someone to lie that I am leveling an invalid personal attack or insult. The truth is that I am attacking and will attack (and “insult”) your (collective) beliefs and behaviors. If you think that Frank Walton is “bad,” be assured that I make him look like a piker (and this is because he *does* go for invalid and pointless personal insult; if he’d lay off that, he could be far more effective than I).

    So, the digression:

    Another way to understand what I have said above and will say below — and I want this to be understood, which is why I’m explicitly saying it now — is that I mean to set a trap for you (and/or Rich, and/or any other ‘atheist’ who happens to bump into BR’s blog and this thread).

    I’ll be blunt: I don’t expect you or any other ‘atheist’ to admit that this is a logically sound and valid argument; much less do I expect any ‘atheist’ to admit, on the basis of this or any other argument, that there is indeed, a God. It is, of course, not utterly impossible for an ‘atheist’ to admit the truth of the matter; but just as the ‘atheist’ nearly always settled on ‘atheism’ for non-rational reasons, it is rarely reasoned argument that leads him to abandon his stance.

    I have never yet personally encountered an ‘atheist’ who is intellectually honest — or even wholly logical/rational — when it comes to the question of God. In this wide world, there may well be some, somewhere; but what exists is a different matter from what any one of us knows of or has encountered.

    Simply consider (the notorious) Anthony Flew, whom, of course, I haven’t personally encountered, though I have read his recently co-authored book about his personal journey into “theism” — understand that the man’s long-standing civility, in contradistinction to the “New Atheists,” is a different matter from his irrationality regarding God. It has taken this man an entire life-time to admit that his foundational premise, “There is no God,” is false. He now acknowledges that the old/classic arguments for God are good, whereas he has spent a life-time denying that they are. But nothing has changed … except in what he is willing to admit.

    Consider what it is that Rich put forward as perhaps mirroring his thought:
    “Prove God is necessary.”
    .
    “Easy! He’s necessary because I say He’s necessary.”

    There was no “perhaps” about it; that precisely mirrors Rich’s “thought” — and Rich’s “thought” is intellectually dishonest (which is why I have put ‘thought’ in scare-quotes), while directly echoing the “thought” of every other ‘atheist’ I have ever encountered.

    For at least 2000 years, Christians and Jews have been been presenting rational/logical arguments that there is a God (and certain *pagan* Greek philosophers did so up to 500 years BC).

    And how to ‘atheists’ *always* respond? Why, exactly as Rich “perhaps” does: with dishonest misrepresentation and a brush-off. They respond exactly as anyone attending to Annyday’s post can clearly see that he already has — before we have even worked through my argument, Annyday has already dismissed it as ineffective and worthless!

    There is not, and has never been, nor will ever be, a good (i.e. logical and rational) argument *for* ‘atheism.’ One might as well hope for a good argument that “1+1=42;” it simply cannot be done honestly.

    So, given my expressed opinion of the attidudes and (expected) behaviors of ‘atheists,’ in general, why even bother with trying to work through this argument? There are several reasons, interrelated, among which are:

    1) In respect to ‘atheists’ and ‘atheism:’ to demonstrate (one again, for it has been demonstrated innumerable times already) in real-time and using real, live ‘atheists’ as the subjects, that ‘atheism’ is irrational; that ‘atheists’ maintain their ‘atheism’ via irrationality.

    Certainly, when we have worked through this, it is not utterly impossible that Annyday (or Rich or some other ‘atheist’) will acknowledge that ‘atheism’ is false. But don’t bet the farm on it. What is far more likely is that each of them will go off into one, or even several, of various irrationalities: simply denying what he knows, positing ad hoc conjectures, positing Buddhism as a “refutation” of Christianity, etc, etc.

    2) In respect to Christians: our spiritual ancestors chickened-out 200 years ago in response to those silly “Enlightened” ‘atheists’ and their (intentionally) misdirected and misapplied “arguments.” Over the past generation or so, Christian thinkers (CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Alvin Plantinga and many others) have been turning this around. This argument is part of that advance; the time of retreat is over: Christ didn’t call us to be cowering fideists.

  42. Ilíon Says:

    A digression: And I don’t in the least care how much *you* or anyone else may whine about what I say now; though, as this is BeastRabban’s blog, if he does not want me to be so direct in the future, I will do my best to refrain. I *expect* you or some other ‘atheist’ to whine that I am attacking/insulting you (singular and collective). Let me be more blunt about this: I expect someone to lie that I am leveling an invalid personal attack or insult. The truth is that I am attacking and will attack (and “insult”) your (collective) beliefs and behaviors. If you think that Frank Walton is “bad,” be assured that I make him look like a piker (and this is because he *does* go for invalid and pointless personal insult; if he’d lay off that, he could be far more effective than I).

    So, the digression:

    Another way to understand what I have said above and will say below — and I want this to be understood, which is why I’m explicitly saying it now — is that I mean to set a trap for you (and/or Rich, and/or any other ‘atheist’ who happens to bump into BR’s blog and this thread).

    I’ll be blunt: I don’t expect you or any other ‘atheist’ to admit that this is a logically sound and valid argument; much less do I expect any ‘atheist’ to admit, on the basis of this or any other argument, that there is indeed, a God. It is, of course, not utterly impossible for an ‘atheist’ to admit the truth of the matter; but just as the ‘atheist’ nearly always settled on ‘atheism’ for non-rational reasons, it is rarely reasoned argument that leads him to abandon his stance.

    I have never yet personally encountered an ‘atheist’ who is intellectually honest — or even wholly logical/rational — when it comes to the question of God. In this wide world, there may well be some, somewhere; but what exists is a different matter from what any one of us knows of or has encountered.

    Simply consider (the notorious) Anthony Flew, whom, of course, I haven’t personally encountered, though I have read his recently co-authored book about his personal journey into “theism” — understand that the man’s long-standing civility, in contradistinction to the “New Atheists,” is a different matter from his irrationality regarding God. It has taken this man an entire life-time to admit that his foundational premise, “There is no God,” is false. He now acknowledges that the old/classic arguments for God are good, whereas he has spent a life-time denying that they are. But nothing has changed … except in what he is willing to admit.

  43. Ilíon Says:

    Consider what it is that Rich put forward as perhaps mirroring his thought:
    “Prove God is necessary.”
    .
    “Easy! He’s necessary because I say He’s necessary.”

    There was no “perhaps” about it; that precisely mirrors Rich’s “thought” — and Rich’s “thought” is intellectually dishonest (which is why I have put ‘thought’ in scare-quotes), while directly echoing the “thought” of every other ‘atheist’ I have ever encountered.

    For at least 2000 years, Christians and Jews have been been presenting rational/logical arguments that there is a God (and certain *pagan* Greek philosophers did so up to 500 years BC).

    And how to ‘atheists’ *always* respond? Why, exactly as Rich “perhaps” does: with dishonest misrepresentation and a brush-off. They respond exactly as anyone attending to Annyday’s post can clearly see that he already has — before we have even worked through my argument, Annyday has already dismissed it as ineffective and worthless!

    There is not, and has never been, nor will ever be, a good (i.e. logical and rational) argument *for* ‘atheism.’ One might as well hope for a good argument that “1+1=42;” it simply cannot be done honestly.

    So, given my expressed opinion of the attidudes and (expected) behaviors of ‘atheists,’ in general, why even bother with trying to work through this argument? There are several reasons, interrelated, among which are:

    1) In respect to ‘atheists’ and ‘atheism:’ to demonstrate (one again, for it has been demonstrated innumerable times already) in real-time and using real, live ‘atheists’ as the subjects, that ‘atheism’ is irrational; that ‘atheists’ maintain their ‘atheism’ via irrationality.

    Certainly, when we have worked through this, it is not utterly impossible that Annyday (or Rich or some other ‘atheist’) will acknowledge that ‘atheism’ is false. But don’t bet the farm on it. What is far more likely is that each of them will go off into one, or even several, of various irrationalities: simply denying what he knows, positing ad hoc conjectures, positing Buddhism as a “refutation” of Christianity, etc, etc.

    2) In respect to Christians: our spiritual ancestors chickened-out 200 years ago in response to those silly “Enlightened” ‘atheists’ and their (intentionally) misdirected and misapplied “arguments.” Over the past generation or so, Christian thinkers (CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Alvin Plantinga and many others) have been turning this around. This argument is part of that advance; the time of retreat is over: Christ didn’t call us to be cowering fideists.

  44. Ilíon Says:

    Consider what it is that Rich put forward as perhaps mirroring his thought:
    “Prove God is necessary.”
    .
    “Easy! He’s necessary because I say He’s necessary.”

    There was no “perhaps” about it; that precisely mirrors Rich’s “thought” — and Rich’s “thought” is intellectually dishonest (which is why I have put ‘thought’ in scare-quotes), while directly echoing the “thought” of every other ‘atheist’ I have ever encountered.

    For at least 2000 years, Christians and Jews have been been presenting rational/logical arguments that there is a God (and certain *pagan* Greek philosophers did so up to 500 years BC).

    And how to ‘atheists’ *always* respond? Why, exactly as Rich “perhaps” does: with dishonest misrepresentation and a brush-off. They respond exactly as anyone attending to Annyday’s post can clearly see that he already has — before we have even worked through my argument, Annyday has already dismissed it as ineffective and worthless!

    There is not, and has never been, nor will ever be, a good (i.e. logical and rational) argument *for* ‘atheism.’ One might as well hope for a good argument that “1+1=42;” it simply cannot be done honestly.

  45. Ilíon Says:

    So, given my expressed opinion of the attidudes and (expected) behaviors of ‘atheists,’ in general, why even bother with trying to work through this argument? There are several reasons, interrelated, among which are:

    1) In respect to ‘atheists’ and ‘atheism:’ to demonstrate (one again, for it has been demonstrated innumerable times already) in real-time and using real, live ‘atheists’ as the subjects, that ‘atheism’ is irrational; that ‘atheists’ maintain their ‘atheism’ via irrationality.

    Certainly, when we have worked through this, it is not utterly impossible that Annyday (or Rich or some other ‘atheist’) will acknowledge that ‘atheism’ is false. But don’t bet the farm on it. What is far more likely is that each of them will go off into one, or even several, of various irrationalities: simply denying what he knows, positing ad hoc conjectures, positing Buddhism as a “refutation” of Christianity, etc, etc.

    2) In respect to Christians: our spiritual ancestors chickened-out 200 years ago in response to those silly “Enlightened” ‘atheists’ and their (intentionally) misdirected and misapplied “arguments.” Over the past generation or so, Christian thinkers (CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Alvin Plantinga and many others) have been turning this around. This argument is part of that advance; the time of retreat is over: Christ didn’t call us to be cowering fideists.

    end of dicression

  46. Ilíon Says:

    So, given my expressed opinion of the attidudes and (expected) behaviors of ‘atheists,’ in general, why even bother with trying to work through this argument? There are several reasons, interrelated, among which are:

    1) In respect to ‘atheists’ and ‘atheism:’ to demonstrate (one again, for it has been demonstrated innumerable times already) in real-time and using real, live ‘atheists’ as the subjects, that ‘atheism’ is irrational; that ‘atheists’ maintain their ‘atheism’ via irrationality.

    Certainly, when we have worked through this, it is not utterly impossible that Annyday (or Rich or some other ‘atheist’) will acknowledge that ‘atheism’ is false. But don’t bet the farm on it. What is far more likely is that each of them will go off into one, or even several, of various irrationalities: simply denying what he knows, positing ad hoc conjectures, positing Buddhism as a “refutation” of Christianity, etc, etc.

    2) In respect to Christians: our spiritual ancestors chickened-out 200 years ago in response to those silly “Enlightened” ‘atheists’ and their (intentionally) misdirected and misapplied “arguments.” Over the past generation or so, Christian thinkers (CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Alvin Plantinga and many others) have been turning this around. This argument is part of that advance; the time of retreat is over: Christ didn’t call us to be cowering fideists.

  47. Ilíon Says:

    hmmmm, I can’t make heads nor tails of this

  48. Ilíon Says:

    So, given my expressed opinion of the attidudes and (expected) behaviors of ‘atheists,’ in general, why even bother with trying to work through this argument? There are several reasons, interrelated, among which are:

    1) In respect to ‘atheists’ and ‘atheism:’ to demonstrate (one again, for it has been demonstrated innumerable times already) in real-time and using real, live ‘atheists’ as the subjects, that ‘atheism’ is irrational; that ‘atheists’ maintain their ‘atheism’ via irrationality.

    Certainly, when we have worked through this, it is not utterly impossible that Annyday (or Rich or some other ‘atheist’) will acknowledge that ‘atheism’ is false. But don’t bet the farm on it. What is far more likely is that each of them will go off into one, or even several, of various irrationalities: simply denying what he knows, positing ad hoc conjectures, positing Buddhism as a “refutation” of Christianity, etc, etc.

  49. Ilíon Says:

    2) In respect to Christians: our spiritual ancestors chickened-out 200 years ago in response to those silly “Enlightened” ‘atheists’ and their (intentionally) misdirected and misapplied “arguments.” Over the past generation or so, Christian thinkers (CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Alvin Plantinga and many others) have been turning this around. This argument is part of that advance; the time of retreat is over: Christ didn’t call us to be cowering fideists.

    end of digression

  50. Ilíon Says:

    2) In respect to Christians: our spiritual ancestors chickened-out 200 years ago in response to those silly “Enlightened” ‘atheists’ and their (intentionally) misdirected and misapplied “arguments.” Over the past generation or so, Christian thinkers (CS Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Alvin Plantinga and many others) have been turning this around. This argument is part of that advance; the time of retreat is over: Christ didn’t call us to be cowering fideists.

    (I had several links above, removing them seems to have finally got this through)

    end of digression

  51. Ilíon Says:

    Isn’t that most odd?

    Let’s try those links again:

    CS Lewis
    Francis Schaeffer
    Alvin Plantinga

    fideism

  52. Ilíon Says:

    Isn’t that most odd?

    Let’s try those links again:

    CS Lewis
    Francis Schaeffer
    Alvin Plantinga

    (was it the ‘fideism’ link?)

  53. Ilíon Says:

    fideism

    Isn’t this so odd?

  54. Ilíon Says:

    Isn’t this so odd?

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/fideism

  55. Ilíon Says:

    OK, let’s try to continue …

    Annyday:Explain it again. Slowly. About how … denying the existence of God involves denying your own existence, so everyone should know a priori that God exists.

    We haven’t yet worked through it; I have not pretended that I have explained it a first time. I presented the synopsis; I have told you (plural) where we’re going to go, assuming you stick with this as long as it takes.

    A priori‘ may not be exactly right; and yet, neither is ‘a posteriori.’ This argument takes into account the “real world” — that which exists “outside” our minds — but makes, nor uses the results of, no empirical experiments. Nor does it use one single word of Scripture (which fact I expect to offend some Christians).

    Also, and importantly, this argument isn’t about establishing any particularist Christian doctrine; this argument is about establishing that ‘atheism’ is false — it is about establishing that there is, indeed, a God: a Creator, who is a “who” (a person, not a “force” or “principle”).

    Rich’s “challenge” (the scare-quotes are intentional) to BeastRabban was: “Prove god is necessary. Please. We’ll all convert. Not sure ro which faith, though.” This argument is about addressing *that*

    =================
    So, if you really do want to play, let us begin. I said: “In a nut-shell: *You* are the indisputable proof (in contrast to mere ‘evidence’) that there is a God. If you choose to deny that there exists a God, then you must logically end up denying that you, yourself, exist. But, it is absurd to assert that you, yourself, do not exist; therefore, you know that the denial that God exists is absurd; therefore you know that God exists.

    First, we need to lay some ground-rules … that is, set the trap that you (singular and/or plural) are going to walk right into with your eyes wide open.

    “Ground-rules” may not be the best term to use here, since the following list is likely not exhaustive; rather it is what I can think of right now. Anyway, incomplete though this list probably is, you must agree to all of it, or show from the start that you (personally) are irrational; from which we may justly infer that your (personal) denial of God is irrational:

    1) Do you agree and affirm that truth exists; that there is a real (and knowable) difference between ‘true‘ and ‘not-true?’

    1a) Do you agree and affirm that there is no such thing a “half-true?”

    2) Do you agree and affirm that we can know at least some truths and *know* that we know truth?

    3) Do you agree and affirm that we can reason; that we have “the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways?”

    4) Do you agree and affirm that the “laws of logic” are sound, reliable, and normative/prescriptive?

    5) Do you agree and affirm that the criterion for judging any particular thought/thinking to be ‘rational‘ and ‘logical‘ (i.e. that the person who did that particular thinking exhibits in that particular thinking, even if nowhere else, properties “of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways“) is whether the thinking conforms to the “laws of logic?”

    5a) (i.e.) Do you agree and affirm that it is not “getting the ‘right’ answer” or “getting the ‘wrong’ answer” that makes some particular line of thought rational or irrational and/or logical or illogical, but rather it is the process by which one got an answer that is determinative?

    5b) Do you agree and affirm that a logical/rational statement *may* be false, but that an illogical/irrational statement may never be true?

    6) Do you agree and affirm that via reasoning we can discover truths we did not know before?

    6a) Do you agree and affirm that the conclusion of a sound argument (an argument with true premises and valid inferences) *must* be true?

    6b) Do you agree and affirm that IF the conclusion of an argument is absurd, THEN either: 1) at least one inference of the argument is invalid, 2) at least one premise of the argument is false, 3) both of the above?

    6c) Do you agree and affirm that IF the conclusion of an argument is not patently absurd, but is known by other means to be false, THEN one may validly infer either: 1) at least one inference of the argument is invalid, 2) at least one premise of the argument is false, 3) both of the above?

    7) Do you agree and affirm that IF we determine that the conclusion of an argument is absurd, AND IF we determine that the inference(s) are valid, THEN we have ipso facto determined that at least one of the premises is false?

    7a) Do you agree and affirm that IF we determine that some specific premise of an argument is false, THEN we have determined that the denial of that premise is true? That it cannot be otherwise? That to deny this particular point is illogical and irrational? That to continue to affirm the truth of the premise shown to be false is illogical and irrational?

    Incomplete though the above may be, read the list carefully; and if you presume to deny or dispute any of it, you’d better have a knock-out argument: I have little patience for tendentiousness and absolutely none for illogic and irrationality. And I am not at all shy about naming it … and mocking it.

  56. Mark Says:

    I spent over a year reading and researching various religious concepts. NOWHERE have I ever encountered a proof of God that didn’t break laws of physics, redefine common terms to fit the argument (we should agree on a dictionary, perhaps?), and/or commit egregious logical fallacies. Any one of those renders a proof invalid, all of which seems to be the jist of your list above. Sure, I’ll play by those rules. I don’t know if Annyday or Rich will be by, though.

    My thoughts on the matter are spelled out pretty well in my earlier post, which was stuck in the moderation queue overnight, timestamped 11:21PM

  57. Annyday Says:

    Those are the basic rules of logic, yes? Assuming that’s essentially what they’re intended as, I tend to agree with them as ground rules for any debate. Without them a debate wouldn’t be usefully discernible from a knife fight or a yodeling contest. The way they’re stated here is needlessly confusing and open to misinterpretation, however. For instance:

    “1a) Do you agree and affirm that there is no such thing a[s] “half-true?””

    This sentence has no useful meaning that I can decipher. Either it’s fully redundant with its predecessor, or else it’s impossible to infer its actual meaning at all in the context given.

    You do have an argument not relating to whether or not I accept elementary logic, no? I love arguments, and would like to hear yours.

    Also: Rich says his posts aren’t going through and he wants to invite you over to AtBC. If you do show up, you may want to somehow limit the number of people you try to respond to at once.

  58. JOR Says:

    Can I play?

    “1) Do you agree and affirm that truth exists; that there is a real (and knowable) difference between ‘true‘ and ‘not-true?’”

    Yes.

    “1a) Do you agree and affirm that there is no such thing a ‘half-true?’”

    Yes, with the caveat that a particular statement may include some claims that are true and other claims that are not true, and that sometimes certain people lack the patience to sort these out, and resort to accusing the more patient and charitable among us of various intellectual vices.

    “2) Do you agree and affirm that we can know at least some truths and *know* that we know truth?”

    Yes.

    “3) Do you agree and affirm that we can reason; that we have ‘the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways?’”

    Yes.

    “4) Do you agree and affirm that the ‘laws of logic’ are sound, reliable, and normative/prescriptive?”

    Yes.

    “5) Do you agree and affirm that the criterion for judging any particular thought/thinking to be ‘rational‘ and ‘logical‘ (i.e. that the person who did that particular thinking exhibits in that particular thinking, even if nowhere else, properties ‘of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways’) is whether the thinking conforms to the ‘laws of logic?’”

    Yes.

    “5a) (i.e.) Do you agree and affirm that it is not “getting the ‘right’ answer” or “getting the ‘wrong’ answer” that makes some particular line of thought rational or irrational and/or logical or illogical, but rather it is the process by which one got an answer that is determinative?”

    Yes, with the caveat that getting a surprising or weird answer may legitimately motivate us to go back and investigate our premises and chain of reasoning more closely to see if we went wrong somewhere.

    “5b) Do you agree and affirm that a logical/rational statement *may* be false, but that an illogical/irrational statement may never be true?”

    Yes, with the caveat that an invalid argument from false premises may have a conclusion that is true (but the argument is still false).

    “6) Do you agree and affirm that via reasoning we can discover truths we did not know before?”

    Yes.

    “6a) Do you agree and affirm that the conclusion of a sound argument (an argument with true premises and valid inferences) *must* be true?”

    Yes.

    “6b) Do you agree and affirm that IF the conclusion of an argument is absurd, THEN either: 1) at least one inference of the argument is invalid, 2) at least one premise of the argument is false, 3) both of the above?”

    If we define absurd here very strictly to mean, the conclusion contradicts something else implicit in the argument, then yes. If by absurd we just mean surprising or weird, then see above (5a) and below (6c).

    “6c) Do you agree and affirm that IF the conclusion of an argument is not patently absurd, but is known by other means to be false, THEN one may validly infer either: 1) at least one inference of the argument is invalid, 2) at least one premise of the argument is false, 3) both of the above?”

    Yes, with the caveat that it depends on what exactly it is we ‘know’ by other means (sometimes we misdescribe ourselves as ‘knowing’ something we do not know).

    “7) Do you agree and affirm that IF we determine that the conclusion of an argument is absurd, AND IF we determine that the inference(s) are valid, THEN we have ipso facto determined that at least one of the premises is false?”

    See 6b and 6c, and 5a.

    “7a) Do you agree and affirm that IF we determine that some specific premise of an argument is false, THEN we have determined that the denial of that premise is true? That it cannot be otherwise? That to deny this particular point is illogical and irrational? That to continue to affirm the truth of the premise shown to be false is illogical and irrational?”

    Yes.

    Now, I’m still waiting for the presuppositionalist magic that shows us that atheism is an irrational position. I’ve always been disappointed before. Surprise me.

  59. beastrabban Says:

    Hi guys, thanks for posting. I hope you’ve had a happy Christmas Day, whatever your religious beliefs. Regarding Rich’s posts not getting through, I haven’t banned him so I don’t know why they aren’t.

    Now Annyday, regarding your statement that Can you find anything to do with humans at all that does not meet these criterea? If so, you might be making meaningful comparisons and observations. If not, it’s a rhetorical trick, and “religious” by your definition means essentially “pertaining to humans”.

    No, it’s not a rhetorical trick by any means. I also said it involves issues of ultimate concern and ultimate allegiance. And the fact that the category is nebulous is a property of the category itself, not a product of my sophistry. One of the other definitions of religion by sociologists is the division of the world into ‘sacred’ or ‘profane’, but this is also an extremely nebulous division which can almost fit anything. Now you haven’t offered your definition of religion, nor how it differs from atheism. I’d be interested to hear how you define religion.

  60. Rich Says:

    *test*

  61. Rich Says:

    Wow! My apologies for claiming I was banned. Perhaps it was glitch or somesuch.

    Have we just defined “religion” into “philosophy”, one wonders?

  62. Rich Says:

    Do you agree and affirm that truth exists; that there is a real (and knowable) difference between ‘true‘ and ‘not-true?’”

    “Giants are tall” – true or not?

  63. Dan Says:

    “One of the other definitions of religion by sociologists is the division of the world into ’sacred’ or ‘profane’, but this is also an extremely nebulous division which can almost fit anything. Now you haven’t offered your definition of religion, nor how it differs from atheism. I’d be interested to hear how you define religion.”

    A religion is, fundamentally, a set of beliefs and practices regarding the supernatural, usually souls or gods. Stretching it past there really is a form of sophistry.

    Your challenges to this reasonably intuitive definition are 1) Taoism, and 2) Buddhism. However, they don’t even begin to break the mold. Buddhism has a (somewhat amusing) set of doctrines about souls and reincarnation, numerous heavens and hells, and the karmic states of being that lead to them. Simply because they don’t revere their gods doesn’t make it a non-supernatural religion.

    Traditional Taoism has a bunch of fun spirits and gods, and a number of beliefs about the soul and alchemy mixed in with it, too. The only time it isn’t “supernatural” is when people casually pick up some elements of the religion but not others. Trying to argue that this separates Taoism or Buddhism from the label of “supernatural” is a lot like saying anyone who emulates a Western monk or lives by a Christian tenet is a “Christian”, and they might not believe in a Christian God, so Christianity isn’t a supernatural type of religion. The logic is, in other words, bad.

    But my definition isn’t really relevant, because your definition is still useless. It encompasses everything. You have no good logical criteria for excluding sports, stamp collecting, solving Rubik’s cubes or anything else from your broadened definition of “religion”. If you do, I’d like to hear it. Since the definition doesn’t actually tell us anything about the things you’re putting into the category, the definition is useless. Since the definition is useless and doesn’t convey any information as is, the only justification for using it is a rhetorical one.

    Further, even if you did have such a classification soas to make your definition the word “religion” at least useful, there’s no good reason to use the word “religion”, which automatically associates it with the supernatural, when we have handy words like “ideology” lying around in our language meaning more precisely the sort of thing you assert Marxism and “evolutionism” is.

  64. Annyday Says:

    Annyday = Dan, and Dan = Annyday, incidentally. Please pardon any confusion, sometimes I forget what tag I’m using.

  65. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the replies, Rich and Dan/Annyday. As for your posts not getting through, Rich, one of mine vanished too for no apparent reason.

    I’m going to have write a third blog entry on this subject just to clarify what I’m trying to do here, and support a few points more fully. So you might have to bear with me for a little while until I get it all in order.

    Regarding the general points about Buddhism and Taoism, Anny/Dan – I take your point and actually agree with you here, even if I disagree with you on the fundamental nature of religion. Buddhism and Taoism do indeed boast any number of gods and other supernatural entities, and there seems to be some friction over this between traditional Eastern Buddhists and Westerners attracted to Buddhism. As I recall, during the furore over Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses over here in Britain, the Western Buddhist Order in Bristol at least responded to demands by Muslims for the expansion of the blasphemy laws to cover Islam by stating that they were an atheist religion. As an atheist faith, they demanded the repeal of the blasphemy laws.

    Now clearly Buddhism does have gods and spirits. However, this does seem to have been lost on some Western adherents, as the Dalai Lama was reported to have complained about the misconception of some Western Buddhists that Buddhism = atheism.

    As for Taoism, I’ve met one or two Westerners who’ve described themselves as Taoists without, I suspect, knowing anything about the nature of Taoism itself with its gods, spirits, immortal sages and bizarre alchemy. They’ve read the Tao Te Ching and its paradoxical spirituality – ‘the Tao that can be described is not the true Tao’ – and the lack of a personal deity in the Tao itself. This seems to come from the perception of Taoism given by some of the hippies like Timothy Leary who experimented with notions of the Tao outside of its theistic cultural content and context. In this form, it corresponds to what one Freethinking member of the Dutch parliament has described as ‘ietsisme’ – ‘Something-ism’.

  66. Annyday Says:

    Leary’s pretty funny. I have a copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead solely because I heard Leary considered it to be a good description of a psychedelic state of mind, and it’s full of very bizarre things. Long descriptions of the particular Buddhist sect’s gods and death rituals and so on. Very memorable, I recommend it for anyone interested in weird mysticism.

    Buddhism does enjoy a very curiously privileged place in the Western world, since it has so many characteristics of a religious teaching but often doesn’t have the key pieces that cause it to be weighted (or rejected) as a “religion” in some peoples’ minds. Most notable in that regard, I think, is the missing Ten Commandments style “thou shalt have no other gods before me” bit so popular in Abrahamic faiths.

    A note on Taoism: there is (was?) some controversy about if there’s a split somewhere between “religious” and “philosophical” Taoism, and there’s also all kinds of local flavors of the religion, but I think my basic point holds. Looking forward to a further clarification on definitions of religion. Unless I miss my guess, I’d suspect you’re leaning towards a Durkheim-esque definition, but we’ll see.

  67. beastrabban Says:

    Hi Annyday – I’ve read extracts from the Bardo Thodol or Tibetan Book of the Dead in the edition of Buddhist scriptures published by Penguin. It’s interesting stuff, though I suspect what draws a lot of Westerners to Buddhism is its detailed exploration of the nature of consciousness. Mind you, my favourite work of Eastern mysticism is Monkey , mostly from watching the Japanese TV show broadcast over here in Britain on BBC 2 in the 1980s.

    As for Leary, he’s one of those wild, charismatic figures who will continue to fascinate, if only because of the bizarre grandeur of some of his schemes. That said, a College friend of mine found his The Politics of Ecstasy frustrating to read. He liked Leary’s ideas, but found the way he piled on the Hippy verbiage intensely irritating. Ah well, I suppose it added to its period charm.

  68. Ilíon Says:

    This post is meant as a general response to various responses to my last post (the “ground rules” thing). I intend other, more specific, post(s) later.

    Mark said:… NOWHERE have I ever encountered a proof of God that didn’t break laws of physics, redefine common terms to fit the argument (we should agree on a dictionary, perhaps?), and/or commit egregious logical fallacies. Any one of those renders a proof invalid, all of which seems to be the jist of your list above …

    Of Mark’s list of three of three things which he says renders a proof invalid, only the last item, “commit[ting] egregious logical fallacies,” really does always render a proof invalid. I trust we all understand that an invalid proof doesn’t necessarily mean that the statement intended as the conclusion of the proof is false.

    The first item, “break[ing] laws of physics” (whatever one thinks the phrase “laws of physics” means), is the least likely to render a proof invalid; it’s all but irrelevant, really. To assert something like this is almost always reflection of ‘scientism;’ a sure indication that one doesn’t begin to understand what ‘science’ is and is not.

    The second item, “redefin[ing] common terms to fit the argument” is border-line incorrectly stated. It isn’t the redefinition of common terms that is the problem — shoot, this “science” thingie that ‘atheists’ generally claim to hold in such high esteem redefines common terms all the time — the problem arises with tendentious (and generally hidden) redefinitions, with equivocations. If the parties involved understand the specialized meaning(s) in use, the change may well be unproblematic.

    One of the more amusing (I use the word sarcastically) aspects of these sorts of arguments (sarcasm again) is watching a party who *is* relying upon equivocation level an accusation of “just engaging in semantics” against a party who is trying to determine (and nail-down) just what meanings are being used. In case the reader isn’t aware, determining the meanings of words being used is exactly what ‘semantics‘ is about.

    So: “… Any one of those renders a proof invalid, all of which seems to be the jist of your list above …” Even aside from the first clause, discussed above, I’m not exactly sure what to make of this sentence. I’ll get to the purpose of my list in a bit; perhaps it won’t matter that I’m not sure how to understand what Mark wrote here.

    The question of the purpose of my list leads to:

    Annyday said:Those are the basic rules of logic, yes? Assuming that’s essentially what they’re intended as, I tend to agree with them as ground rules for any debate. Without them a debate wouldn’t be usefully discernible from a knife fight or a yodeling contest. …

    Actually, regarding what it is, the list is more about basic epistemology; ‘basic rules of logic’ is one of the items on the list.

    Still, I can’t help but wonder at the thought processes behind saying “Those are the basic rules of logic, yes? Assuming that’s essentially what they’re intended as, I tend to agree with them as ground rules for any debate.” Or rather, I *don’t* wonder … it is precisely because I have learned to expect ‘atheists’ to be suspicious of clear logical rules that I drew up the list. I thought I explained this in one of the earlier posts.

    And, already … merely in response to the list … we see exactly the sort of “argumentation” that the list is an attempt to forestall:

    Concerning equivocation … and my list … and that “trap:”

    Ilíon:Do you agree and affirm that truth exists; that there is a real (and knowable) difference between ‘true‘ and ‘not-true?’
    .
    Rich:“Giants are tall” – true or not?
    .
    *Every* word in Rich’s “refutation” of the list is used equivocally.

    I pretty much don’t see any point in wasting a bit of my time with any of Rich’s future comments; their probable nature is already clear. [ Though, Rich, if you make an especially amusing comment, I may laugh at it. Alternately, if you show yourself to be serious, I will try to take your comments seriously. ]

    But there is another point related to Rich’s comment/behavior … and you other ‘atheists’ (and my general experience with ‘atheists’): not one of you said a thing about that comment. Now, it’s true that you are not he and he is not you and it would be most unjust to not treat everyone as individuals.

    But STILL! He’s trying to dispute that we can even *know* anything. Are you OK with that? Are you OK with accepting that assertion if it had been enough to compel me to slap my forehead and exclaim: “Oh! OH! Well, that changes everything! Clearly, there’s no point in trying to figure out this God business.

    The point here has to do with that “trap” I told you I was setting: Rich’s comment makes it clear that he is not interested in getting at the truth on this matter, that he is quite willing to throw reason itself overboard in order to protect his false First Premise (i.e. “There is no God.”)

    The purpose of my list:

    As with most things we humans do, there are multiple motivations and the list has multiple purposes. Chief among these are: 1) An attempt to preempt just the sort of “argumentation” Rich engages in here; 2) To establish that the *structure* of my argument is sound.

    If the reader examines the list on conjunction with the argument’s outline, it ought to be clear that the list was drawn up with 2) in mind. Some items (especially the sub-items of 5 and 6), which may seem like belaboring the point, reflect past experience in trying to discuss *anything* related to the “God wars” with ‘atheists/agnostics.’

  69. Ilíon Says:

    I don’t at all imply that *only* ‘atheists’ and ‘agnostics’ resort to un-reason when it’s “necessary.” It’s a constant human temptation/weakness.

    It’s just profoundly amusing, in this age of “evangelical atheism,” to see ‘atheists/agnostics’ so regularly do the very thing they (falsely) claim is the very basis of Christianity.

  70. JOR Says:

    “But there is another point related to Rich’s comment/behavior … and you other ‘atheists’ (and my general experience with ‘atheists’): not one of you said a thing about that comment.”

    Well, personally I thought it was pretty dumb, but unremarkable coming from him. It’s what he does.

    “As with most things we humans do, there are multiple motivations and the list has multiple purposes. Chief among these are: 1) An attempt to preempt just the sort of “argumentation” Rich engages in here; 2) To establish that the *structure* of my argument is sound.”

    I think I was probably uncharitable to you. If so, I apologize. Now if you want to make an argument that actually has something to do with the existence of (a personal) God, go ahead.

  71. Rich Says:

    Hello Ilion.

    You are catalogued here:

    http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?act=SP;f=14;t=5340;p=90001

    I will miss the hilarity that your reasoning would have doubtless brought me. Oh well. My point regarding absolute frames of reference was doubtless wasted on you. No matter, there are enough keen minds to critique your “proof of god”. Carry on. I may laugh anyway.

    JOR, I’m so pleased you and Ilion are freinds. That’s awesome.

    Carry on.

  72. Mark Says:

    I don’t use wordpress, so hopefully I don’t mangle the italics tags. . . .

    RE: violating the laws of physics What I meant was that if a proof involves objects being in two places at once, creating more energy than is used (violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics), etc, then the proof has an invalid step. There are certainly areas of physics we don’t yet know about, but they won’t change the fact that an object cannot literally be in two places at once, and energy out is always less than energy in. (I studied a lot of physics in uni.)

    RE: redefin[ing] common terms to fit the argument Equivocation would have been a more accurate term. My favorite equivocation is “theory.” The definition of theory, used in a scientific sense, is a well-tested, logically self-consistent model or framework for describing the behavior of a related set of natural or social phenomena. (wikipedia) When non-scientists use the word, it means “conjecture,” “idea,” or even “hunch.”

    Since you also mention that no one else responded to Rich’s question about giants – I think most of us realized the question was only being directed to you, Ilíon, and realized what the major points were. One must define “giant” and what a “giant’s” height is being compared to before the question is even valid. You missed the point entirely. (And perhaps I’m oversimplifying Rich’s comment, too – I’m known to do that.)

    But this is neither here nor there at this point. My attention span is rather short, and something “shiny” may distract me at a moment’s notice. 😉 As we’ve passed the Setup alread, I think we’re all ready to move on from the Hook and onto the Tale: your proof that God is necessary. Then we’ll see what Act 4 holds.

  73. Ilíon Says:

    Ilíon: [said stuff]
    .
    Mark: I spent over a year reading and researching various religious concepts. NOWHERE have I ever encountered a proof of God that didn’t break laws of physics, redefine common terms to fit the argument (we should agree on a dictionary, perhaps?), and/or commit egregious logical fallacies. Any one of those renders a proof invalid, all of which seems to be the jist of your list above. Sure, I’ll play by those rules. I don’t know if Annyday or Rich will be by, though.

    Mark, my initial reaction on reading this was over-all skepticism, tinged with mild amusement. Though it is going even farther afield to do so, it was my attention to probe just what in the heck you’re talking about. If nothing else, to ask for at least a link to an example.

    Based on your response to my last post, I’m fairly certain that you’re trying to claim that the Jewish-Christian concept and claim that God is ‘transcendant‘ is a “break[ing of] laws of physics.” How quaintly amusing, if so.

    As for “redefin[ing] common terms to fit the argument,” I strongly suspect (especially in light of your response to my last post) that you are falsely so labeling Christians’ attempts to to exactly the opposite. What standard operating procedure, if so.

    As for “commit[ting] egregious logical fallacies,” I can’t even begin to speculate as to what you imagine fits that bill. Oh, I *could* speculate that — based on past experience with ‘atheistic’ reasoning — your reasoning likely runs thusly: “‘Theistic’ argumentation about the existence of God aims to show that the existence of God can be known via reason, which is clearly an unreasonable claim, and thus commits an egregious logical fallacy.” But, such speculation wouldn’t be letting you speak for yourself.

    Mark: My thoughts on the matter are spelled out pretty well in my earlier post, which was stuck in the moderation queue overnight, timestamped 11:21PM

    That would be this:

    Mark: Rabban, your proof that God is necessary is, “the existence of God is intimately connected to the universe, which is created by God. God is by His very nature a necessary being, not an extra object added to the cosmos. . . .
    .
    If one believes in explanations based on facts and repeatable observations, science seems to have the correct answers right back to The Beginning. Unless you’re advocating a Meddling God, I don’t see how God is necessary for anything other than the initial creation of the universe via the Big Bang. And even then I could make a case that God wasn’t necessary for that event if one posits that the universe is part of a larger, “infinte” framework (a multiverse, if you will).
    .
    I guess proof of God’s existence, let alone necessity, for me at least, boils down to “show me a picture or it didn’t happen.” Can you provide a picture, metaphorically speaking?
    .
    Thank you.

    This looks like pretty standard ‘scientism‘ to me; ‘positivism‘ and “naturalism” each used to distract from the shortcomings of the other.

    Mark:And even then [recognizing that at least one “Interference” is a necessity] I could make a case that God wasn’t necessary for that event if one posits that the universe is part of a larger, “infinte” framework (a multiverse, if you will).

    This sentence, alone and in its context, illustrates one of the amusing habits of ‘atheists,’ as a general class.

    There are multiple points one could raise concerning just this one sentence. I will raise three:

    1) A “multiverse” explains nothing. All multiverse “theory” does is shift the problem, the thing to be explained (in this case, the lawfulness of “nature”), to another and “higher” realm. And while, in fact, compounding the problem, because now there are meta-natural natural laws to be explained.
    2) Definitionally, by the very definitions and claims ‘atheists’ constantly invoke when it is to their advantage to do so, there can never be any observation of any other universe, much less a multiverse. If we observe or interact with “another” universe in any way whatsoever, then *by definition* it is not another universe.
    3) Mark:If one believes in explanations based on facts and repeatable observations, science seems to have the correct answers …

    What is the over-arching point in the above observations? It is, of couse, to remind the reader of general claims I’ve made already:

    Ilíon: … few atheistic systems, and certainly very few of the ‘atheists’ one actually encounters, are *really* “this-worldly, anti-transcendentalist” — that’s just the surface posture (and sometimes, bombast).
    .
    Ilíon: … but just as the ‘atheist’ nearly always settled on ‘atheism’ for non-rational reasons, it is rarely reasoned argument that leads him to abandon his stance.
    .
    Ilíon: There is not, and has never been, nor will ever be, a good (i.e. logical and rational) argument *for* ‘atheism.’ One might as well hope for a good argument that “1+1=42;” it simply cannot be done honestly.
    .
    etc.

    Mark: I guess proof of God’s existence, let alone necessity, for me at least, boils down to “show me a picture or it didn’t happen.” Can you provide a picture, metaphorically speaking?

    Without doubt.

  74. Ilíon Says:

    this WordPress software is odd, isn’t it?

  75. Ilíon Says:

    Mark:I don’t use wordpress, so hopefully I don’t mangle the italics tags. . . .

    I didn’t even manage to get the 😉 icon to appear in my last post, as I’d intended to. And, some of the fancier formatting I’d tried to do in my last post didn’t work (but I’m certain that was a defect in the software.)

    Mark:… My attention span is rather short, and something “shiny” may distract me at a moment’s notice. 😉 …

    I have that problem, too; I certainly understand.

    Mark: RE: violating the laws of physics What I meant was that if a proof involves objects being in two places at once, creating more energy than is used (violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics), etc, then the proof has an invalid step. There are certainly areas of physics we don’t yet know about, but they won’t change the fact that an object cannot literally be in two places at once, and energy out is always less than energy in. (I studied a lot of physics in uni.)

    Haven’t you ever heard of “entanglement,” for instance?

    Of perhaps even more (potential) importance, especially for one whose world-view is a reflection of ‘scientism,’ don’t you know that “science” “says” that time, itself, isn’t real? Rather than duplicating the text of it, I’ll link to this post at Victor Repport’s blog.

    Saying that “an object cannot be in two places at once” is not a Law of Physics (and, just what are those, anyway?). It’s a common-sensical and natural (we all do it pretty much before we can even talk) application of certain logical laws to material objects (chiefly, I think, the Law of Identity, the Law of Non-Contradiction, and the Law of the Excluded Middle).

    WHERE does any Jewish or Christian argument for the existence of God involve either a violation of SLOT or an assertion that “an object *can* be in two places at once?”

    We *do* claim that “Natural Law” is neither supreme nor self-existant (and other things which logically follow), but that’s a different matter.

    Part of the problem here is that you (singular and plural) tend to confuse the *effects* of natural laws for the laws themselves — you confuse the pattern/regularity which we observe, for the law (which we do not observe) that specifies the observable pattern/regularity.

    Mark: RE: redefin[ing] common terms to fit the argument Equivocation would have been a more accurate term. My favorite equivocation is “theory.” The definition of theory, used in a scientific sense, is a well-tested, logically self-consistent model or framework for describing the behavior of a related set of natural or social phenomena. (wikipedia) When non-scientists use the word, it means “conjecture,” “idea,” or even “hunch.”

    Pull-llese!

    If you want to play *that* game, then we can observe that it is this “science” thingie doing the equivocation, since both ‘theory’ and ‘hypothesis’ had long-established meanings in theology and philosophy long before we Christians invented “modern science.”

    Moreover, far too many “scientific” “theories” — especially The TrVth to which you obliquely refer here — are most assuredly *not* “well-tested” nor “logically self-consistent” nor “descri[ptive of] the behavior of a related set of natural or social phenomena.”

    Moreover (again!), your assertion was that this flaw of “redefin[ing] common terms to fit the argument” was a common feature of Arguments For The Existance Of God” — but, it seems, what you’re really talking about is any criticism/skepticism towards The TrVth That Dare Not Encounter Criticism For It Is Well-Tested And The Best “Explanation” We Have.

    Mark: Since you also mention that no one else responded to Rich’s question about giants – I think most of us realized the question was only being directed to you, Ilíon, and realized what the major points were. One must define “giant” and what a “giant’s” height is being compared to before the question is even valid. You missed the point entirely. (And perhaps I’m oversimplifying Rich’s comment, too – I’m known to do that.)

    I didn’t merely say no one had responded to it; I pointed out that no one had repudiated the “reasoning” it represents. Now, not only are you (personally) remaining silent, as you had before, you’re defending his “argument” … and to do so you’re misrepresenting it, and what I’d said, before and after it was made.

    Mark: As we’ve passed the Setup alread, I think we’re all ready to move on from the Hook and onto the Tale: your proof that God is necessary. Then we’ll see what Act 4 holds.

    You won’t make it that far. In truth, you’ve already dropped out (and I’m not talking about a distraction by something shiney) — you’ve already demonstrated that you are more than willing to toss both truth and reason themself overboard if that’s what it takes to protect your erroneous First Premise.

  76. Rich Says:

    “…you’re defending his “argument” … and to do so you’re misrepresenting it…”

    No he isn’t, Johnny telepath.

  77. Mark Says:

    Every once in a while I get going on a bent on some topic or another. A little over 3 years ago I got into an offhand discussion with a Biblical Literalist at work. Now, I’ve been agnostic since my early teens (“I don’t know if God exists”, I recall telling a friend my sophomore year). Over the course of a couple discussions in a few days I eventually made a comment similar to my “provide a picture.” He responded that I’d have the picture if I read a book he has. He made good and loaned me Strobel’s “Case for Christ,” which I read cover to cover. I think it’s best to simply say that someone who already Christian will find the book good, while one who’s agnostic or atheist will not.

    In an effort to see what others thought about the book, I started to search around. Eventually I started hanging out on some forums like ARN and EvilBible. I found every argument for the existence of God to be full of holes and/or logical fallacies. On the other hand, I found the opposite true for the arguments against the existence of God (at least the Judeo-Christian God), and I eventually decided that I’m atheist, not agnostic. So, the net result of reading Strobel’s book is that I went from agnostic to atheist. But, whether or not anyone really believes me, I will change my mind if someone can provide a real proof for the existence of God.

    I hope that lengthy aside satisfies your curiosity, Ilíon? I’d rather not spend more time on it, if that’s okay with you.

    Quantum Entanglement is a very specific case of two DIFFERENT particles communicating instantaneously. It has nothing to do with the SAME particle being two places at once. Unless you’re going to claim that God is a Lepton, Boson, or Nutrino, I’ll agree it isn’t a law of physics so much it is a “law of common sense.” If you do want to learn about scientific laws, I suggest googling that term, or even searching wikipedia.

    I offered the word “theory” as a specific example of a word that faces a lot of equivocation in use – it means something specific to a scientist, or one who’s science-minded, and something very different to a layperson. I care little of the etymology of the words being used in an argument, so long as the words are defined sufficiently in the argument.

    Case in point: Are giants tall? Despite your claims to the contrary, I gave my answer in my last post. Here it is verbatim: “One must define ‘giant’ and what a ‘giant’s’ height is being compared to before the question is even valid.” Let us suppose we’re defining a ‘giant’ as a living male human of any weight and age over 6 feet, 6 inches tall compared to the height of an average male giraffe (~17 feet), the answer is “no”. I hope this exmple elaborates sufficiently on the reasoning behind Rich’s question.

    As for not making it to your proof, I concluded as such 4 days ago. If you had a simple proof for the existence of God, you’d have provided it by now. At first I thought you were stalling due to the interesting discourse, but now I’m not convinced you even have a proof – simple or otherwise. If that’s the case, then sincerely I thank you for the interesting diversion on my week off work over the holidays. If not, I’ll gladly apologize.

  78. Rich Says:

    Awwww…. proof of god aborted!

  79. Ilíon Says:

    No; I have many other things to do also.

  80. Rich Says:

    That’s a shame, it would have looked good on your resume.

    Peace and Love, Ilíon.

  81. thordaddy Says:

    Mark,

    If I stated,

    There is no empirical evidence for God. true or false?

    Would you approach this in the same manner you approached the “Giants are tall” statement?

    Meaning, you can’t reasonably answer the question until you define all the terms. And then it isn’t clear whether you can still answer. So how does an atheist define God in order to state true or false? Isn’t your scientific definition of “empirical evidence” narrow and myopic? It seems to me that you can neither ask nor answer the question. You’ve essentially excluded yourself from the search for Truth.

  82. Ilíon Says:

    Mark: I hope that lengthy aside satisfies your curiosity, Ilíon? I’d rather not spend more time on it, if that’s okay with you.

    Did I really exhibit such curiosity? Oddly enough, I don’t recall doing so.

    I said — and going by your behavior which I observe — that “you’ve already demonstrated that you are more than willing to toss both truth and reason themselves overboard if that’s what it takes to protect your erroneous First Premise.

    To put this “curiosity” thing a bit differently, I didn’t ask you to justify your ‘atheism’ to me, but I did say that your (presently observable) behavior is inconsistent with the hypothesis that there is a rational basis to your (personal) adherence to ‘atheism.’

    Mark:NOWHERE have I ever encountered a proof of God that didn’t […1] break laws of physics …
    .
    Ilíon: Based on your response to my last post, I’m fairly certain that you’re trying to claim that the Jewish-Christian concept and claim that God is ‘transcendant‘ is a “break[ing of] laws of physics.” How quaintly amusing, if so.
    .
    Mark: RE: violating the laws of physics What I meant was that if a proof involves objects being in two places at once, creating more energy than is used (violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics), etc, then the proof has an invalid step. There are certainly areas of physics we don’t yet know about, but they won’t change the fact that an object cannot literally be in two places at once, and energy out is always less than energy in. (I studied a lot of physics in uni.)
    .
    Ilíon: Haven’t you ever heard of “entanglement,” for instance?
    .
    Mark: Quantum Entanglement is a very specific case of two DIFFERENT particles communicating instantaneously. It has nothing to do with the SAME particle being two places at once.

    So, it’s over your head — “quantum entanglement” is another instance of the same state of affaires as seen in the “double-slit experiment.”

    In “quantum entanglement,” there is no communication between the two particles; what a silly concept, as though these particles had minds which could communicate information one to the other and then act upon that information! Rather, both particles are simultaneously in both locations.

    OK. Since “quantum entanglement” is apparently too esoteric, what about the “double-slit experiment?” Not only is the object in two places at once, it’s in a multitude — all possible — places simultaneously.

    SO, ONCE AGAIN: “What specific Judeo-Christian concept inolved in ‘Proof of God’ arguments violates ‘the Laws of Physics?’” It was, after all, your claim that: “NOWHERE have I ever encountered a proof of God that didn’t [… 1] break laws of physics …

    Mark: Unless you’re going to claim that God is a Lepton, Boson, or Nutrino, I’ll agree it isn’t a law of physics so much it is a “law of common sense.” If you do want to learn about scientific laws, I suggest googling that term, or even searching wikipedia.

    Put a sock in it.

    I didn’t come to BR’s blog to discus this with the likes of you; I already know that people like you (and Rich) are unwilling to think clearly.

    I came to BR’s blog to discus this with BR, should he be interested in doing so. I had long seen his comments at others’ blogs and had been impressed with his carefulness of thought and expression. (Also, JOR appears to be willing to think carefully. But you and Rich and Danny? Not a chance.)

    Mark:NOWHERE have I ever encountered a proof of God that didn’t … [2] redefine common terms to fit the argument (we should agree on a dictionary, perhaps?), …
    .
    Ilíon: As for “redefin[ing] common terms to fit the argument,” I strongly suspect (especially in light of your response to my last post) that you are falsely so labeling Christians’ attempts to to exactly the opposite. What standard operating procedure, if so.
    .
    Mark: RE: redefin[ing] common terms to fit the argument Equivocation would have been a more accurate term. My favorite equivocation is “theory.” The definition of theory, used in a scientific sense, is a well-tested, logically self-consistent model or framework for describing the behavior of a related set of natural or social phenomena. (wikipedia) When non-scientists use the word, it means “conjecture,” “idea,” or even “hunch.”
    .
    Ilíon: Moreover (again!), your assertion was that this flaw of “redefin[ing] common terms to fit the argument” was a common feature of Arguments For The Existance Of God” — but, it seems, what you’re really talking about is any criticism/skepticism towards The TrVth That Dare Not Encounter Criticism For It Is Well-Tested And The Best “Explanation” We Have.
    .
    Mark: I offered the word “theory” as a specific example of a word that faces a lot of equivocation in use – it means something specific to a scientist, or one who’s science-minded, and something very different to a layperson. I care little of the etymology of the words being used in an argument, so long as the words are defined sufficiently in the argument.

    You’re talking about something else entirely from your initial statement.

    SO, ONCE AGAIN: “What specific Judeo-Christian concept inolved in ‘Proof of God’ arguments relies upon equivocation?” It was, after all, your claim that: “NOWHERE have I ever encountered a proof of God that didn’t … [2] redefine common terms to fit the argument (we should agree on a dictionary, perhaps?), …

    Mark:NOWHERE have I ever encountered a proof of God that didn’t … [3] and/or commit egregious logical fallacies.
    .
    Ilíon: As for “commit[ting] egregious logical fallacies,” I can’t even begin to speculate as to what you imagine fits that bill. Oh, I *could* speculate that — based on past experience with ‘atheistic’ reasoning — your reasoning likely runs thusly: “‘Theistic’ argumentation about the existence of God aims to show that the existence of God can be known via reason, which is clearly an unreasonable claim, and thus commits an egregious logical fallacy.” But, such speculation wouldn’t be letting you speak for yourself.
    .
    Mark: [nothing]

    Apparently, this point of the claim was dropped already.

    ————-
    Mark:NOWHERE have I ever encountered a proof of God that didn’t break laws of physics, redefine common terms to fit the argument (we should agree on a dictionary, perhaps?), and/or commit egregious logical fallacies.
    Clearly, you’re shooting blanks; all three portions of your initial statement seem to be empty. Your initial statement was *obviously* entirely bombast; it sounded deep and thoughtful but was nothing but an empty distraction.

    Look, you’re an ‘atheist;’ you have a false — and irrational — world-view that you need to protect however you can. I fully understand that. I just don’t care about projecting your tender sensibilities. And I certainly don’t intend to allow you to waste my time.
    —————–

    Rich:“Giants are tall” – true or not?
    .
    Ilíon: *Every* word in Rich’s “refutation” of the list is used equivocally.
    .
    Mark: Case in point: Are giants tall? Despite your claims to the contrary, I gave my answer in my last post. Here it is verbatim: “One must define ‘giant’ and what a ‘giant’s’ height is being compared to before the question is even valid.” Let us suppose we’re defining a ‘giant’ as a living male human of any weight and age over 6 feet, 6 inches tall compared to the height of an average male giraffe (~17 feet), the answer is “no”. I hope this exmple elaborates sufficiently on the reasoning behind Rich’s question.

    Case in point: people like you seem *always* to imagine that you have refuted an opposing view or point by pointing out that the specifics offered are correct.

    Mark: As for not making it to your proof, I concluded as such 4 days ago. If you had a simple proof for the existence of God, you’d have provided it by now. At first I thought you were stalling due to the interesting discourse, but now I’m not convinced you even have a proof – simple or otherwise. If that’s the case, then sincerely I thank you for the interesting diversion on my week off work over the holidays. If not, I’ll gladly apologize.

    I didn’t come to BR’s blog to discus this with the likes of you; I already know that people like you (and Rich) are unwilling to think clearly.

    I came to BR’s blog to discus this with BR, should he be interested in doing so. I had long seen his comments at others’ blogs and had been impressed with his carefulness of thought and expression. (Also, JOR appears to be willing to think carefully. But you and Rich and Danny? Not a chance.)

  83. Mr Christopher Says:

    Hey man this will be short and sweet. I am a non-theist (I don’t buy any of it) but I’m open to new ideas (as long as I don’t have to partake in any cannibalism rituals or pray to zombies).

    Can someone, perhaps you Ilion, give me some concrete evidence of a deity? Not wishy washy arguments but some testable evidence?

    Awesome, thanks in advance! I’m looking forward to some verifiable evidence, looks like being a theist is fun so this should be cool!

    Chris!

  84. Mr Christopher Says:

    Hey man this will be short and sweet. I am a non-theist (I don’t buy any of it) but I’m open to new ideas (as long as I don’t have to partake in any cannibalism rituals or pray to zombies).

    Can someone, perhaps you Ilion, give me some concrete evidence of a deity? Not wishy washy arguments but some testable evidence?

    Awesome, thanks in advance! I’m looking forward to some verifiable evidence, looks like being a theist is fun so this should be cool!

  85. Mr Christopher Says:

    Sorry for the double post, I kept getting an error everytime I clicked the submit comment button.

  86. Ilíon Says:

    Mr Christopher,
    It’s only by accident that I’ve seen your post (I’d stopped checking this thread, as it seemed clear to me that no one else was interested in actually having this conversation). Considering the time that has passed since you made the post, it’s doubtful that you’ll see this post.

    But let’s not play games, shall we? We both know that you’re not interested “evidence,” whatever that word is supposed to mean when you use it; even less are you interested in seeing and admitting the falsity of your anti-Christian worldview.

  87. Ilíon Says:

    Mr Christopher,
    Here is where we both know you do not want.

  88. Ilíon Says:

    Oops, “what,” not “where.” Or, if “where,” then “Here is where what we both know you do not want may be found.”

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